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A giant asteroid that just missed Earth has slipped through the net



Internal emails prove that the largest asteroid that passed so close to Earth in a century has "slipped" through NASA's detection systems, Earth as the Moon, exposing documents that Buzzfeed had received on Freedom of Information requests.

It was discovered by a Brazilian observatory on July 24, just before it was located in a radius of about 73,000 miles around the Earth. NASA's failure to locate the 100 meter wide space rock was a reflection of many years of concern over the US government's lack of funding for asteroid detection efforts.


"This object has slipped through a number of our nets for a variety of reasons," explains Drs. Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, wrote to colleagues on July 26.

"So, was this just a sneaky asteroid? I wonder how many times this situation happened without the asteroid ever being discovered? "

The emails showed how space agency staff quickly figured out how the asteroid of Discovery escaped after a colleague alerted them to the near-miss, "because there could be media coverage tomorrow." I discovered the asteroid on July 7, but it moved too slowly to be identified as a near-Earth object. As it accelerated, according to the emails, it was too close to a full moon for astronomers to recognize.

A Nasa planetary defense officer had written that 2019 OK seemed to be the largest asteroid that could come so close to Earth in the last century. Another such event was not expected before 2029.

Although there was never a chance that the asteroid would have collided with Earth, a press release sent by NASA a few weeks later said, "If 2019 OK had occurred and disturbed In the terrestrial atmosphere over land, the explosion would have led to local devastation Area of ​​approximately 80 kilometers in diameter. "

The inability to identify space rock as a near-Earth object shows that exploratory efforts need to be better funded.


Will a giant 2019 asteroid really hit Earth?

The US Congress has tasked the space agency to discover, track, and catalog 90 percent of its 140-meter-diameter objects that pass near Earth by 2020.

While the Trump Administration has attached great importance to its return In a June report from the US National Academy of Sciences, it was stressed that NASA needed better detection methods and infrared telescopes to reach its 2020 target ,

"It is interesting to note that this is a space-based system. The infrared telescope was in the station two years ago and has scanned the sky. At that time, it would probably have recognized the year 2019 as OK, and this year's meeting would not have been a surprise. " Chodas in the news release from Nasa from August.

Planetary Defense Conference in May, a virtual asteroid that hit New York after NASA scientists and international experts failed to stop it in a simulation that tested the response to such a real scenario should. [196] 59077]
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