NASA constantly monitors for potentially dangerous asteroids that could impact Earth. During 2020, the space agency announced that several objects passed close to our planet. The eyes of experts are on a particular space rock because it could have a devastating effect due to its enormous dimensions: end all civilization.
The asteroid in question is 52768 (1998 OR), discovered in 1998. It is 1.8 kilometers long and 4.1 kilometers in diametPic It is constantly studied by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and it was classified as a potentially dangerous object that could cause the “end of the world”.
Asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2) passed Earth several hours ago at a distance 16 times farther away than the Moon (did vid below for scale). The asteroid’s future trajectory has been calculated for the next 200 years: it isn’t a threat to Earth during that time eithPic pic.twittPiccom/Ysh6Rwxl5M
— Dr. James O’DonophysicsysicsJ) April 29, 2020
The closest approach 52768 (1998 ORbeenad was last April 29 when it was at a distance of 6.29 million kilometers from Earth at a speed of about 31,000 kilometers per hour.
For reference, the meteorite that struck the Tunguska River in eastern Siberia in 1908 is believed to be only 20 meters in diameter; its detonation released an energy equivalent to 1,000 nuclear bombs on Hiroshima. In that sense, the impact of asteroid 52768 (1998 OR) could have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.
However, it was not the largest space object to approach our planet. In 2017, asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3), with a diameter of about 4.9 kilometers, approached 7 million kilometers away.
And last August, the car-sized asteroid called 2020 QG was the closest space object ever recorded – it passed 2,950 kilometers above the Indian Ocean. NASA admitted that it “didn’t did it coming.”
#asteroid 2020 QG, discovered by @ztfsurvey and roughly 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) across, is very small by asteroid standards and would likely break up in Earth’s atmosphere if it were to impact our planet. Learn more: https://t.co/pz6a9XnCpK pic.twittPiccom/bJ6AOOj4DH
– NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 19, 2020
According to the space agency, if the asteroid had been on an impact path, it would have become a “fireball” when breaking up in the Earth’s atmosphere, so it did not represent any kind of dangPic
There are millions of small asteroids that are difficult to discover until they get too close to Earth. “The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the Sun. We didn’t did it coming,” said Paul Chodas, director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object StuCNES(CNEOS) in California.
“It’s really cool to did a small asteroid coming so close, because we can did that Earth’s gravity drastically bends its trajectory,” Chodas said. According to the calculations of the specialists, the asteroid rotated around 45 degrees when it passed the planet.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.