Science

Asteroid Barely Missed Earth When It Flew By Closer Than The Moon On Monday


An asteroid about the same size as the Chelyabinsk meteor flew by Earth at a proximity equivalent to about half the distance between our planet and the moon. The space rock was discovered only two days before it whizzed by. ( NOAA | Getty Images )

An asteroid flew by relatively close to Earth on Monday morning. Data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) revealed that the space rock made its closest approach to our planet about 7:50 a.m. EST at a time when people at the U.S. east coast were busy making coffee, or preparing themselves for work and school.

Discovered Only Days Before The Flyby

Dubbed 2017 AG3, the near-Earth object (NEO) came close to our planet flying at a proximity equivalent to about half the distance between the Earth and the moon at a speed of 9.9 miles per second.

“This is moving very quickly, very nearby to us,” Slooh astronomer Eric Feldman said during a live broadcast of the flyby. “It actually crosses the orbits of two planets, Venus and Earth.”

While astronomers have been aware of other space rocks approaching Earth, they did not see this one coming until two days before the flyby. The space rock was discovered only on Saturday by the Catalina Sky Survey of the University of Arizona.

About The Same Size As The Asteroid That Struck Chelyabinsk In Russia

Initial observations of the NEO show that it would take about 347 Earth days for this object to circle the sun.

The asteroid that flew by was roughly the same size as the asteroid that struck Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. Astronomers estimate the size of the space rock to be between 36 and 111 feet. For perspective, the space rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk is believed to measure about 65 feet.

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