Asteroid Size of a School Bus to Zoom By Earth, Ducking Below Communications Satellites
This image from video made available by NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies shows the path of asteroid 2020 SW as it safely passes Earth on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Orbiting the Earth is the location of a typical geosynchronous satellite (labeled "GEOSAT"), orbiting 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above Earth's equator. At bottom right is the moon. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
An asteroid the size of a school bus is headed our way, but NASA says the space rock will zoom safely past Earth on Thursday.
The newly discovered asteroid will come within 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometres) of Earth, well below many of the communications satellites orbiting the planet, scientists said this week.
The closest approach will occur Thursday morning over the southeastern Pacific Ocean.
Once it's gone, the asteroid won't be back to Earth's neighborhood until 2041.
Scientists estimate the asteroid is between 15 feet and 30 feet (4.5 meters to 9 meters).
By asteroid standards, that's considered puny.
Asteroids of this size hit Earths atmosphere and burn up once every year or two, said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
There could be as many as 100 million of these little asteroids out there.
The real threat is considerably bigger asteroids. The good news is that these are easier to spot much sooner than just a few days out.
Asteroid 2020 SW, as it is known, was discovered last Friday by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Earlier, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) allayed the fears by suggesting that the space rocks pose no known threat for the next 100 years.
This observation has been made by NASA Asteroid Watch in the wake of the surfacing of a report suggesting that Asteroid named 465824 2010 FR was expected to enter the Earth’s orbit on September 6.
“Regardless, stories sometimes surface with alarming headlines surrounding particular asteroids, so we like to reassure everyone when we see such conversations,” Financial Express reported, quoting NASA Asteroid Watch.
Asteroids that come within 1.3 astronomical units from the Sun are considered as NEO. They are not harmful to Earth.
(With AP inputs)