NASA and all the other space agencies cannot possibly track every portion of the sky for alien threats. Earth in its Milky Way galaxy is just like a needle in a haystack, not to mention how things are if we consider the entire observable Universe.
The 2020 SW asteroid is another space object that will be paying us a visit soon, on September 24. It will come closer to Earth than weather satellites, and we’ll get to admire it in all its glory online.
Asteroid 2020 SW won’t hit us
Despite the fact that the upcoming asteroid will safely miss us on September 24, the close encounter with Earth will change the orbit of the space rock. The asteroid was discovered on September 18 from Mt. Lemmon Observatory in Arizona.
At its closest approach, the 2020 SW asteroid should pass at a distance of only 17,556 miles from Earth and on September 24 (around 11:18 UTC). Meteorological satellites orbit the Earth at a farther distance: 22,300 miles from the planet’s surface.
A small asteroid
Asteroid 2020 SW wouldn’t pose a threat to us even if, by some chance, it collides with Earth. The asteroid measures only about 14 to 32 feet in diameter, and it travels at a speed of 17,336 miles per hour (27,900 km/h). By comparison, the Chicxulub impactor that wiped out the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago was measuring between 11 to 81 kilometers in diameter.
The 2020 SW space rock is currently within the constellation of Pegasus the Flying Horse, and the next step for the asteroid is to move to the constellation of Pisces the Fish. According to preliminary calculations, the 2020 SW asteroid makes a full rotation around the sun every 372 days. That means that the space rock’s orbit is only seven days longer than the one of Earth.