A small asteroid with the size of a car has reached a new milestone as it passed by Earth at a minimum distance of 1,830 miles, coming to the closes object that passed by our planet.
Due to its small size, the asteroid wouldn’t have posed any threat for humans even if it would have crashed into Earth, but the close distance is troublesome, especially since it was spotted by astronomers after it passed by, as it managed to approach our planet without being spotted.
The asteroid was spotted after six hours since it passed by Earth, and NASA, along with other space agencies, did not see it coming. It was spotted first by the Palomar Observatory, which is located in California. Further research revealed that the passing was a new record.
A report shared by a popular news outlet mentions that a large number of Near-Earth Objects (also known as NEOs) manage to pass by Earth undetected as they do not enter the line of sight of telescopes. If a large one could come towards Earth without being detected, the consequences could be dire if it crashes into a populated area.
While the passing wasn’t dangerous, the small distance between the asteroid and Earth is still impressive. Data provided by impact simulators notes that even if it was considerably smaller and made of high-density materials, only a few fragments would have reached the surface of our planet.
Most asteroids of this type tend to explode n the atmosphere, offering an impressive visual spectacle an unleashing an airburst that would have sounded like an intense traffic jam. However, the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, which took place in Russia, showed that even asteroids with a size under 100 feet could cause large-scale damage.
NASA is working hard on a new telescope that will facilitate the detection of small NEOs in the future.