NASA reported that an asteroid about the size of a school bus passed Earth early Thursday morning and drove from a distance of about 13,000 miles.
According to the state space agencyThe rock came closest to Earth around 7 a.m. on Thursday, crossing the southeastern Pacific.
NASA first reported the asteroid Tuesday, saying scientists had estimated the space rock to be around 15 to 30 feet wide. Scientists predict that the asteroid will now travel around the sun and not return to near Earth until 2041.
A small near-Earth asteroid the size of a small school bus safely zooms past our planet, about 21,000 km above the surface. The space rock will then find its way around the sun and pass the earth again at a greater distance in 2041. Https://t.co/z6uDogXn52 pic.twitter.com/c9Xv4PhNFi
– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) September 23, 2020
Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said Tuesday that space rocks like these are relatively common and not seen as a threat to life on Earth.
“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and some of them get this close to our planet several times a year,” Chodas said. “In fact, asteroids this size are affecting our atmosphere at an average rate of about.” once a year or two. “
He added that “NASA’s asteroid survey detection capabilities are constantly improving and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a few days before they approach our planet.”
2020 SW, discovered by @Catalina_sky, is approximately 15 to 30 feet wide and will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 22,000 km on September 24th. Tiny asteroids like 2020 SW approach Earth several times a year and are not a threat: https://t.co/xKWtzxLI7Q pic.twitter.com/FpkY77zibw
– NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) September 23, 2020
NASA said that while the asteroid wasn’t on its way to hit Earth on Thursday, it likely would have broken up in the atmosphere and turned into a bright meteor known as a fireball before it did any damage.
This comes a month later NASA reported that an asteroid is on its way to Earth a day before the US presidential election, though the agency said the likelihood of it actually hitting the earth’s surface is less than 1 percent. NASA confirmed in a statement to The Hill last month that the rock would pose no threat.
“If it got into our planet’s atmosphere, it would dissolve due to its extremely small size,” a spokesman said in the statement. “NASA has been instructed by Congress to detect 90% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 140 meters and reports on asteroids of all sizes.”