A medium-sized asteroid surprised astronomers with an unexpected near miss of the Earth on the weekend.
Just a day after being discovered dangerously close and approaching Earth, an asteroid, potentially capable of causing significant damage, has darted past our planet almost missing it on an astronomical scale. Astronomers at the NASA-sponsored program first locked eyes on 2018 GE3 on Saturday (April 14) at 5:23 a.m. EDT (09:23 GMT).
The April asteroid, however, traveling at a speed of about 66,000 miles per hour, would have likely broken down "due to friction with the air" as soon as it entered Earth's atmosphere, EarthSky reported.
A newly discovered asteroid the size of a football pitch skimmed past alarmingly close to Earth - and scientists hadn't spotted it in advance.
The sheer size of 2018 GE3, estimated to be 3.6 times larger than the Tunguska asteroid that wreaked havoc in 1809 when it exploded over Siberia in Russian Federation, was enough to pose a genuine threat.
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With an estimated diameter of 157 to 361 feet (48 to 110 meters), the asteroid's impact with the Earth could have caused substantial damage. It may make you feel much better (or even worse) to understand that asteroids get in Earth's environment undetected on a relatively routine basis.
"An asteroid this big is capable of causing some regional damage, depending on various factors such as composition, speed, entry angle, and location of impact".
"More than 1,800 potentially hazardous objects have been discovered so far, but there are many more waiting to be found".
Illustration of the orbit of asteroid 2018 GE3.
If GE3 hit us, there is a chance it would survive entering our atmosphere and fall to Earth. In fact, it's half the distance between the Earth and the Moon.