Home Science A car-sized asteroid “almost hit” Earth

A car-sized asteroid “almost hit” Earth


We probably undervalue the fact that there are many asteroids “close by” and we could one day be on a collision course with one of the “monsters”. We are confident in the systems that watch space and understand that they really control the trajectories of these rocks. However, on August 16, an asteroid passed close to Earth, at 2,950 km, and was not detected until six hours later.

It was small, the size of a car, but it could cause problems. It flew over the planet and followed its route.

Asteroid arrived, entered, left and nobody noticed her

Asteroids that penetrate Earth are something we hope to avoid. Imagine if such an impact happened in one of our main cities, the effects would be catastrophic. That's why there are inventions like NASA's ion engine, for example.

So when an asteroid almost the size of a car passed close to our planet on Sunday and no one noticed until after the fact, the news is quite worrying.

It traveled just 1,830 miles (2,950 km) across Earth, according to Business Insider.

The almost accident

As far as recorded, the asteroid flight was the closest to flying on Earth of all time. It was captured by a NASA-funded program that called the asteroid 2020 HQ.

Even if the asteroid had collided with Earth, due to its size, it would not have caused any huge damage. What is worrying is that no one saw him arrive until he had already passed.

The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the Sun. We did not foresee this.

Explained Paul Chodas, director of NASA's Center for the Study of Objects Near Earth.

It was the Palomar Observatory that first noticed the asteroid's path.

According to Chodas, the approach of this asteroid is the closest recorded, if we do not count some known asteroids that really hit our planet. The 2020 HQ flew over the southern hemisphere, and Tony Dunn on Twitter created a simulation to show his speed - 12.4 km per second. The images show the flight impressively close to Earth.

Since the telescope readings showed that the asteroid was the size of a car, it should be between two and 5.5 meters wide. So, if this asteroid had impacted Earth, it probably would have exploded in the atmosphere and would have no greater effect on people than the feeling of some distant sounds.

The problem of the Sun

The problem with this asteroid was that it came from the direction of the Sun, and as such “there is not much we can do about detecting asteroids coming from the direction of the Sun, as asteroids are detected using only optical telescopes (like ZTF) , and we can only look for them in the night sky. ” said Chodas.

The idea is that we discovered them in one of their previous passages on our planet, and then make predictions years and decades in advance to see if they have any chance of impact.

The NASA researcher concluded.

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