A space rock, flying at a velocity of 106,000 kilometers per hour (about 66,000 mph), passed next to Earth, at a chillingly short distance, in spatial terms. Last Saturday, when everybody was focused on the news about the situation in Syria, this huge asteroid, as big as a football field, flew by our planet.
NASA astronomers have noticed the massive space rock with the NASA’s observatory from Arizona but with just about 20 hours before its surprise flight-by.
Just 21 hours after that initial sighting, this asteroid, dubbed as 2018 GE3, got closer to Earth, at a chillingly short distance, in spatial terms. Flying at a speed of around 106,000 kilometers per hour (66,000 mph), 2018 GE3 space rock passed at a distance equal to half the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Scientists detect a new asteroid that approaches Earth, once or twice a week. But, luckily, these rocks flies-by at a distance bigger than the one between us and the Moon. Even more, the vast majority of the asteroids which passes in the Earth’s vicinity are, in general, as big as a house or a bus.
The 2018 GE3 asteroid was much larger and if it has collided with Earth, the consequences would’ve been catastrophic
NASA has approximated that 2018 GE3 was up to 100 meters wide, meaning that this space rock is about 3 and a half times larger than the famous Tunguska space rock which floored about 2,000 square kilometers of the Siberian forest, back in 1908.
As the NASA’s astronomers said, generally, asteroids are dark and small, so their detection could be difficult, in some cases. Moreover, these space rocks fly at very high velocities, thus, to detect them a telescope must target the exact area of the sky where the asteroid flies and at the right time.
On the other hand, NASA runs an asteroid detection program but, for the moment, it targets only the space rocks wider than 140 meters. Thus, the 2018 GE3 asteroid, which recently passed next to Earth, went undetected.