Washington: The Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) has found an asteroid that will come within 4 million miles of Earth in mid-October.
The object is about 150 feet in diameter and was discovered in images acquired on September 16, when it was about 20 million miles away.
It is the first "potentially hazardous object" (PHO) to be discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey and has been given the designation "2010 ST3."
"Although this particular object won`t hit Earth in the immediate future, its discovery shows that Pan-STARRS is now the most sensitive system dedicated to discovering potentially dangerous asteroids," said Robert Jedicke, a member of the PS1 Scientific Consortium.
"This object was discovered when it was too far away to be detected by other asteroid surveys," noted Jedicke.
Timothy Spahr, of the Minor Planet Center (MPC), said, "It is proof that the PS1 telescope, with its Gigapixel Camera and its sophisticated computerized system for detecting moving objects, is capable of finding potentially dangerous objects that no one else has found."
Pan-STARRS expect to discover tens of thousands of new asteroids every year with sufficient precision to accurately calculate their orbits around the sun. Any sizable object that looks like it may come close to Earth within the next 50 years or so will be labeled "potentially hazardous" and carefully monitored.