Car-sized asteroid came close to hitting earth

Space Science

This is the first image of Asteroid 2020 QG, captured by Caltech’s Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) after the asteroid’s closest approach to Earth at a distance of 1,830 miles above the planet’s surface. The asteroid shows up as a streak because it is closer than the background stars, and zipped past ZTF’s camera.
Credit: ZTF/Caltech Optical Observatories

MYSTERY WIRE — Too close for comfort is how a close-call from a car-sized asteroid flying past Earth can be described.

On Sunday, August 16 the asteroid came within 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) of hitting Earth.

In asteroid terms this is extremely close. In fact according to the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a robotic survey camera located at Palomar Observatory near San Diego, this is the closest asteroid to Earth ever recorded. It’s a statement confirmed by a catalog compiled by Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Italy.

If you are wondering why you didn’t hear about this last week, it’s because no one knew about this asteroid until if after it flew past Earth. The Palomar Observatory in California first detected the space rock about six hours after the close call.

According to Caltech “Asteroid 2020 QG is about 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) across, or roughly the size of an SUV, so it was not big enough to do any damage even if it had been pointed at Earth; instead, it would have burned up in our planet’s atmosphere.”

Animation showing the asteroid’s trajectory bending due to Earth’s gravity during its close approach to Earth.
(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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