NASA Notice A New Asteroid Closest Ever Seen Passing Earth On Sunday
An asteroid the dimensions of an SUV passed 1,830 miles (2,950 km) above Earth, the closest asteroid ever observed passing by our planet, NASA said Tuesday.
If it had been on a collision course with Earth, the asteroid, named 2020 QG, would likely not have caused any damage, instead disintegrating within the atmosphere, creating a fireball within the sky, or a meteor, NASA jet propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said during a statement.
The asteroid, which was about ten to twenty feet (three to 6 metres) long, passed above the Southern Indian Ocean on Sunday at 4:08 GMT (9:38am IST).
It was moving at nearly 8 miles per sec (12.3 kM per second), well below the geosynchronous orbit of about 22,000 miles (roughly 35,405 km) at which most telecommunication satellites fly.
The asteroid was first recorded 6 hours after its approach by the Zwicky Transient Facility, a telescope at the Palomar Observatory at California Institute of Technology, as an extended trail of light within the sky.
The US Space Agency said that similarly sized asteroids travel by Earth at an identical distance a couple of times per annum .
But they’re difficult to record, unless they’re heading directly towards the earth , during which case the explosion within the atmosphere is typically noticed — as in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, when the explosion of an object about 66 feet long shattered windows for miles, injuring thousand people.
One of NASA missions is to watch larger asteroids (460 feet) that would actually pose a threat to Earth, but their equipment also tracks smaller ones.
“It’s really cool to ascertain a little asteroid come by this close, because we will see the Earth Gravity dramatically bends its trajectory,” said Paul Chodas, the director of the middle for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA.