Near-Earth Asteroid Made Extremely Close Fly-by of Earth

Near-Earth Asteroid Made Extremely Close Fly-by of Earth

Near-Earth asteroid 2020 OY4 was first detected by The Mount Lemmon Survey on July 26. The space rock approached our planet, reaching its minimum distance from us earlier today (July 28, 2020), at 5:31 UTC. It made an extremely close, but safe fly-by at a distance of about 35,170 km, which is less than 11 percent of the average distance of the moon. According to the European Space Agency, the space rock passed by Earth at a speed of 12.4 km/s and is estimated to be around 2.3 to 5.2 meters wide. The good news is that it posed no risks at all to Earth. However, it did come across the flight path of geosynchronous satellites.


“A tiny, 3 meter asteroid called 2020 OY4 skimmed past Earth just a few hours ago, passing within the orbit of satellites in the geostationary ring,” said ESA officials


Recorded data about the exact distance at closest approach differ between ESA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Coordination Center and NASA’s Asteroid Watch outreach tool. As mentioned before, ESA listed the closest distance as 35,170 km (± 50km), seeming to be just inside the satellite ring. Meanwhile, NASA’s tool estimated the distance to be 41,400 km, which is 35,786 km above Earth’s equator ─ just outside the orbit of geosynchronous satellites.


“Of course, there were no risks at all to our planet,” wrote Italian astrophysicist and founder of the Virtual Telescope project, Gianluca Masi. 


NASA reports suggest that asteroid 2020 OY4 has the third closest flight distance of the year.

Masi managed to capture an image of asteroid 2020 OY4 through the lens of “Elena” telescope of the Virtual Telescope Project. 

“The telescope tracked the fast apparent motion of the asteroid; this is why stars show as long trails, while the asteroid looks like a bright and sharp dot of light in the center of the image, marked by an arrow,” Masi explained. 


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