A low-flying asteroid missed Earth only a few hundred miles on Friday the 13th – and was not noticed until the next day.
The asteroid, called 2020 VT4, was spotted 15 hours later by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System survey at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.
It passed our planet less than 400 kilometers (240 miles) away, which is about the same distance as the International Space Station around Earth.
As such, the asteroid 2020 VT4 sets the record for the closest recorded non-meteoric asteroid pass on Earth.
It was about six feet in diameter and flew over the South Pacific. Its encounter with Earth “shortened its orbit and ensured that this cross-country field would make more frequent close approaches,”
Had the asteroid fixed the earth, it would have burned up in its atmosphere, leaving a meteoric trail behind. Nasa says it would require an asteroid larger than 25 meters but less than a kilometer to do local damage to Earth.
However, an adteroid larger than one to two kilometers can have effects worldwide.
The record for an asteroid passing closest to Earth was already broken once this year.
Asteroid 2020 QG on Sunday came just 1,830 miles across the southern Indian Ocean according to the Zwicky Transient Facility, a robotic camera that scans the sky in search of space phenomena.
The asteroid was also particularly small – about three to six meters across, which is about the size of a large car.
An object of that size passes close to Earth about every year, but it is challenging to spot them. Space organizations like Nasa need to track these objects if they come close enough to endanger the Earth.
Asteroid-2020 VT4 is also not the only space debris that passes the earth on a particularly unfortunate day.
An asteroid called Apophis is about 300 meters large, making it comparable to the Eiffel Tower.