Monday, 10 December, 2018

Asteroid the size of a football field makes 'surprise' flyby past Earth

Asteroid-2018-GE3-April-Michael-Jaeger-1 Asteroid buzzed Earth this weekend
Frank Williams | 17 April, 2018, 16:43

An asteroid flew close to Earth Sunday, less than 24 hours after it was first spotted.

That's nothing compared to asteroids that make up the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which can measure to about 580 miles across, NASA explains on its website. But according to Andrew Rader, a researcher and engineer at SpaceX, 2018 GE3 is "vast enough to destroy a city".

It's a general rule to trust governments and space agencies to be able to do things like detect oncoming asteroids that might impact the earth at some point. The asteroid was discovered just one day before it flies close to the earth surface and this is what scientists are calling as " surprise" flyby. While it doesn't sound like a short distance, 2018 GE3 was twice as close to the Earth as the moon is, which has an average orbit of 238,900 miles away.

2018 GE3, as the asteroid is named, was identified on April 14 by the Catalina Sky Survey, a project by the American University of Arizona, funded by NASA and dedicated to the search for asteroids and comets near the Earth. That's a little under half the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

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NASA estimates that the passerby visitor had a diameter of 48 to 110 meters, that is, three to six times as large as the other asteroid in 2013 that exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russian Federation, injuring more than 1,200 people and causing damage to buildings up to 93 km. The asteroid which flies past the earth has a speed about 66,000 miles per hour but the speed will have broken down once the asteroid enters the Earth's atmosphere.

If the asteroid had hit Earth, the devastation would have been regional but not global, and it's possible 2018 GE3 could have even burned up in the atmosphere before ever reaching our planet. Not this time, but a Chelyabinsk-type event can clearly repeat.

The 2018 GE3 is roughly 3.6 times the size of the one that impacted Earth in Russia's Tunguska region in 1908.

"A preliminary analysis of the orbit of 2018 GE shows this is the closest this particular space rock has come to Earth at least since 1930", EarthSky reports.

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