There’s an old saying: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It appears to be so with one of the 50 closest asteroids that were ever recorded. 2020 HS7 was a big surprise for the astronomers when it appeared out of nowhere on April 27. For five days in a row, asteroids were expected to pass by near Earth, but none of them were 2020 HS7.
First observed as an unknown object on March 26, the next it was identified as an asteroid. On April 28 is came as close to Earth as 42,745 km (26,554 miles). That makes it enter in the top 50 closest ever recorded asteroids.
But scientists try and make the best out of this situation. They didn’t see it coming, that’s a fact. But they were able to concert international effort and analyze the situation. NASA’s Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), the Xingming Observatory in China, and the Tautenburg observatory in Germany were able to come up with answers in less than a day.
The scientists predicted and tracked the asteroid’s path, and they calculated that although it comes close it is still far enough for Earth to be safe. They also found that it was no bigger than a few meters. The most important of all was that the chances for 2020 HS7 to collide with Earth were of only 10%. And even if it did, it was too small to survive the impact with Earth’s atmosphere. It would’ve torn it to pieces.
“Small asteroids like 2020 HS7 safely pass by Earth a few times per month. It poses no threat to our planet,” said astronomer Lindley Johnson of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.