This picture shows the orbit of Toutatis. It flew close to Earth in September 2004.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original artwork by Randy Russell, based on orbital information from NASA's Near Earth Object Program.
Asteroid Toutatis Passes Near Earth
News story originally written on October 1, 2004
A large asteroid passed near Earth on September 29,
2004. How close was it? Not close enough to worry about! Asteroid Toutatis passed
within about 1.5
million kilometers (961 thousand miles) of Earth, about four times the distance
to the Moon.
Toutatis is an odd asteroid. It is shaped sort of like a potato. It is about
4.6 km (2.9 miles) long. An asteroid that big would make a big mess if it actually
hit Earth. Astronomers don't think any asteroids that big will pass as close
to Earth this century.
Toutatis was discovered in 1989. It is named after a god of the Celts and
Gauls. Toutatis was a god of war and growth. His name means 'king of the world',
'king of battle' or 'father of the tribe'.
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