Two asteroids made close to Earth on Monday (September 14), which in both cases shows a common event that did not expose our home planet to any risk.
The first space rock, a bus-sized asteroid called 2020 RF3, whispered by our planet 94,000 kilometers away at. 02.49 EDT (0649 GMT) according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies. It is the corresponding distance of a quarter of the way to the Moon of the Earth, a distance of 385,000 km.
A few hours later, a small asteroid in car size 2020 RD4 made a similar close pass at 65,700 miles (approximately 1
Video: Bus and car size asteroids zip by Earth same day
Related: Potentially dangerous asteroids (pictures)
Asteroids pass close to Earth many times a year as there are many thousands of them in our solar system. NASA and a network of telescopes keep an eye on any dangerous space rocks through devices such as NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. Fortunately, no immediate threats to Earth have been found.
There are some recorded cases of asteroids causing damage during Earth’s history, which is why space experts are keeping an eye on the sky. A recent known incident saw a six-story object break up over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, causing building damage and some damage. More famously, the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago is usually attributed to a much larger object that slammed into our planet.
Aside from looking for threatening objects, astrophysicists are studying asteroids to learn more about how the early solar system was formed. Asteroids and icy objects known as comets are remnants of our cosmic neighborhood before most of the material fused into the planets and moons we see today.
Scientists regularly study asteroids with telescopes and use, where possible, spacecraft data to supplement their understanding. Two spacecraft are ready to soon bring samples of asteroids back to Earth, which is actually a rare event.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is scheduled to swim down to the asteroid Bennu on October 20 and bring the sample back to Earth in September 2023. Meanwhile, the Japanese aviation agency has its own mission, Hayabusa2, which is on its way from the asteroid Ryugu to a landing on Earth on 6 December.
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