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Asteroid making surprise flyby at an 'unusually high' velocity

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A newly discovered asteroid (not pictured) will make Halloween more thrilling by passing within 1.3 lunar distances (310,000 miles) of Earth. The object, which measures between 300 and 600 meters (1,000 and 2,000 feet) across, was discovered last week by the asteroid-hunting Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii, according to NASA. It'll streak by on October 31st at an "unusually" high encounter velocity of 35 km/s, or around 78,000 mph. By contrast, the Russian meteorite caught by vehicle cameras in 2013 was 17 meters (55 feet) across and traveled at a top speed of 19 km/s, while the one that flattened a Russian forest in 1908 measured 40 meters (130 feet).

There's no danger of a collision, but the asteroid would pack an enormous punch if it did hit the Earth, given its size and especially its velocity. It's also a bit alarming that astronomers only found it nine days ago, considering how close it already is to our planet. However, NASA said that it was on an extremely eccentric orbit, and "may be cometary in nature," according to its measurements. While it likely gave some telescope-jockey a shock, the close flyby will give scientists a chance to image it with a resolution "as high as 2 meters (6 feet) per pixel," according to NASA. The next time an object passes this close (we hope) will be in 2027, when the mile-wide AN10 asteroid swings by at a closer distance than our moon.

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