A 400-foot-diameter asteroid passed near planet Earth last Friday, June 5, and scientists were unaware.
It was not until two days later, on Sunday, June 7, that they detected a space rock with the ATLAS telescope in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Analyzing its orbit, to their surprise, they realized that it had passed a shorter distance than the one between our planet and the Moon.
You can also read: Meteor, bolide, asteroid, comet or meteorite?
“Occasionally, we hear news about asteroids that would pass close to Earth, but in reality many of these pass at enormous distances, sometimes far beyond the Moon’s orbit. Space rocks that pass even closer than Earth distance- Moon, especially if they are of considerable size, certainly draw the attention of astronomers “, he pointed Eddie Irizarry, of the Caribbean Astronomical Society (SAC), in written statements.
The asteroid that passed close to Earth on June 5, and which has been designated as 2020 LD asteroid, is estimated to be 400 feet (122 meters) in diameter.
“This is the largest asteroid to pass closer than the distance to the Moon this year, and one of the largest to pass this close without being previously detected.” Irizarry indicated.
The space rock passed at a distance equivalent to 80 percent the Earth-Moon distance, and was moving through space at the impressive speed of 60,826 miles per hour, relative to Earth.
You can also read: Meteor crosses the skies of Puerto Rico
“For some, perhaps a 400-foot asteroid is huge, but there are even space rocks several kilometers in diameter. In fact, the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 to 66 million years ago, measured between 11 to 15 kilometers “, he pointed.
For comparison, the educational entity indicated that the asteroid that hit 49,000 to 50,000 years ago near Flagstaff, Arizona, was about 150 feet in diameter, and caused a crater 1.2 km in diameter and 600 feet deep.
While the impressive meteorite sighted in February 2013 over Chelyabinsk, in Russia, was caused by the entry into the atmosphere of a space rock only 55 feet in diameter.
You can also read: They capture from space the meteor seen in Puerto Rico
“Although this particular asteroid (2020 LD) would not happen this closely again in at least the next 50 years, these events and close steps highlight the importance of continuing to study asteroids, as is done from the Arecibo Observatory”, concluded.