Asteroid Scrapes by Earth Hours After First Being Spotted

The Chelyabinsk meteorite causing sharp explosions and injurig many

Less than 24 hours later, it came within about half of the distance between us and the moon, or 119,000 miles (192,000 kilometers) from the surface of the planet.

The Catalina Sky Survey and Steward Observatory in Arizona first observed Asteroid 2018 GE3 in the early morning hours on Saturday. You may have missed it though; humanity only learned of the asteroid hours before the flyby.

A football-sized asteroid - called 2018 GE3 - buzzed by Earth Sunday in one of the closest encounters the planet has seen in awhile. Austrian amateur astronomer Michael Jäger recorded the object as it passed through the southern constellations Serprens.

Wikipedia and other sources are now reporting that this is the largest asteroid to ever pass this close to Earth. The moon, by comparison, is roughly 238,900 miles from Earth. "It was shining like a 13th magnitude star at the time of my observations".

Based on the intensity of its reflected sunlight, 2018 GE3 must be 48 to 110 meters wide, according to NASA-JPL. There really is no telling, as mapping the impact trajectories of objects crashing down to Earth is notoriously hard, and scientists were left with just a few hours to scramble for this one. A more recent point of comparison is the Chelyabinsk meteor-a ~20-meter asteroid that exploded in the atmosphere over Russian Federation on February 15, 2013, shattering windows and toppling onlookers as a fireball brighter than the sun blossomed in the blue morning Ural sky.

That 10,000-ton meteorite shattered into thousands of small fragments that fell throughout the region, according to Time, injuring about 1,500 people and causing considerable damage.

Last week, Sputnik reported that NASA is scrambling to track 17,000 big near-Earth objects (NEOs), including asteroids.

Based on the observational arc of 2018 GE3, said, it appears to follow an elliptical orbit which stretches from the asteroid belt to inside the inner solar system. DART theoretically works by plunging into an asteroid and knocking it off its collision course.



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