Research

Scientists nearly didn't detect 'uncomfortably close' approach of 'city-killer asteroid'

Scientists nearly didn't detect 'uncomfortably close' approach of 'city-killer asteroid'

Asteroids of this size are tough to spot, and while NASA (and other organizations) has catalogued a lot of the ones that come close to the Earth, there's no 100% guarantee of safety with our current detection capabilities-obviously, as this asteroid demonstrated.

Duffy said astronomers consider this type of space rock to be "city-killer asteroids".

"It would have hit with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima", Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy told the paper, calling it a "city-killer asteroid".

Astronomers generally track asteroids further in advance, but this one was hard to pick up because it was traveling from the direction of the sun.

The fast-moving object was confirmed by the asteroid-hunting Sonear survey in Brazil just a day ago.

"It's probably the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in quite a number of years".

That might sound far but it is about a fifth of the distance to the Moon, scientists said, and a pretty close call. "[If it hit Earth] it makes the bang of a very large nuclear weapon - a very large one", an associate Professor Michael Brown, from Monash University's school of physics and astronomy told the Sunday Morning Herald.

More news: Trump Administration Sets Aside Billions in Economic Aid for Farmers

Smaller asteroids like 2019 OK are hard to detect, unlike the almost 90 percent of asteroids that are a kilometer are larger. For example, NASA is tracking over 90 percent of the asteroids that are 0.62 miles (1 km) or larger and are orbiting close to our planet, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Didymos A is 2,624ft across but poses no threat to Earth. An elliptical orbit didn't allow the asteroid to spend a lot of time near Earth and it traveled at about 54,000 miles per hour, a higher than average speed.

Asteroid 2015 HM10, which is up to 360 feet wide, also flew by Earth.

The US government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.

Lastly, asteroid 2019 OE came to within 601,000 miles of Earth.

We are already sending spacecraft to near-Earth asteroids, with NASA's OSIRIS-REx now visiting Bennu and Japan's Hayabusa2 now visiting Ryugu.

If we find an asteroid on an actual collision course with Earth, is there anything we can do? Information about its size and path was announced just hours before it rocketed past Earth, Brown said.


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