Asteroids are small rocks that orbit around the Sun. Despite their small size, they can cause devastation on Earth, like the extinction of the dinosaurs. While we are yet to face such a cataclysm, some close calls have happened as these rocks came close to the Earth. And since 2020 felt like an apocalyptic year, the frequency of these celestial bodies flying by the Earth was high, or we felt so.
Mentioned below are seven such encounters from 2020.
This binary asteroid passed us by on February 3, at a distance of 4.36 million kilometres from Earth, with a speed of 25.3 kilometres per second, as noted by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center website. Binary asteroids have a satellite orbiting them closely. It was deemed potentially hazardous because of its 165 meters size.
On April 29, this 2-kilometre-wide asteroid passed Earth at a distance of 6.3 million kilometres, at 8.7 kilometres per second. As per NASA, 1998 OR2 can become a problem for our planet in the future, owing to slight changes in its orbit over millennia.
136795 (1997 BQ)
First spotted in 1997, the kilometre-wide asteroid flew by Earth on May 21, at a distance of 6,156,716 kilometres, as noted by Space reference. Roughly the size of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, this potentially hazardous rock is not due for another visit until May 31, 2050.
Estimated to be between 5 to 10 metres wide, this school bus-sized asteroid flew past Earth on September 14. As noted on the NASA Jet propulsion laboratory’s website, the floating rock will come close to Earth again in 2041.
Between 36 to 81 metres in length, this Boeing 747-sized asteroid flew past Earth on October 7 at a speed of 6.68 kilometres per second and at a distance of 38,27,797.34 kilometres. As reports Daily Star, it is not expected until August 2027.
2020 ST1 & 2020 TB9
On November 14, these two asteroids flew past our planet at a safe distance. 2020 ST1 is a 175-metre asteroid, more than twice the size of the Qutub Minar. It zoomed past Earth at a distance of 7.3 million kilometres. 2020 TB9, is 30 metres in size and flew past our planet at a distance of 5 million kilometres.