Scientists are getting better at spotting incoming, “potentially dangerous” asteroids, with three more measuring over 15 feet in diameter on the way this week. However, asteroid hunters missed a 1,000-meter space last month.
Earth is almost constantly threatened by space debris in the form of asteroids and meteorites, and this week is no exception with two smaller space rocks due to the buzzing planet today and tomorrow.
Meanwhile, later in the week, NASA gave ‘heads up’ about three asteroids, each measuring over 15 meters.
On 16 September, the 2020 asteroid RW3, which measures approximately 18 m in diameter (or twice as long as a London bus), shoots past Earth at a distance of 2.5 million km.
In order for no one to get too comfortable, in yet another reminder that humanity must be constantly aware of space-borne threats, an amateur astronomer in Brazil discovered a large asteroid that somehow slipped past Earth’s most important planetary defense just last month.
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Asteroid 2020 QU6, which measures 1,000 meters wide, large enough to inflict significant damage here on Earth if it hits, was seen by amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral based at the Campo dos Amarais Observatory in Brazil on 27 August.
Mercifully, it passed us at a distance of 40 million kilometers, over 100 times the distance between Earth and the moon, on September 10th.
Amaral managed to spot the asteroid thanks to his somewhat unique vantage point, as he is based in the southern hemisphere, while many of our asteroid hunter telescopes are based in the northern hemisphere.
“This discovery reminds us that even though we have found most large NEOs [Near-Earth Objects] we have not found them all, “ said Casey Dreier, chief attorney and senior space policy adviser to The Planetary Society.
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