Massive Football Field-Sized Asteroid Comes Close to Earth in Surprise Flyby
18 April, 2018, 03:16 | Author: Grady Montgomery
Had 2018 GE3 been just a little closer, scientists and officials would have had little warning once the space rock plunged into the Earth's atmosphere.
A medium-sized asteroid surprised astronomers with an unexpected near miss of the Earth on the weekend. That remains in contrast to the moon's quarter-million-mile (400,000 km) range. GE3 also passed close to the moon later that morning on its journey around the sun.
"If the asteroid had entered our atmosphere, a great portion of the space rock would have disintegrated due to friction with the air".
NASA estimated that the asteroid measures 48 to 110 meters wide - 3.6 times the size of the one that levelled 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian forest when it exploded over Tunguska in 1908.
SpaceWeather.com reportsasteroid 2018 GE3 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on Saturday.
"However, some of an asteroid this size might have gotten through to Earth's surface, and an asteroid this big is capable of causing some regional damage, depending on various factors such as composition, speed, entry angle, and location of impact".
"More than 1,800 potentially hazardous objects have been discovered so far, but there are many more waiting to be found". The majority of take off high in the environment, or over an ocean, and for that reason do no damage. But according to Andrew Rader, a researcher and engineer at SpaceX, 2018 GE3 is "vast enough to destroy a city". Not this time, but a Chelyabinsk-type event can clearly repeat. Astronomers have actually increased their programs to look for near-Earth asteroids like 2018 GE3, however in some cases- like this time and as in 2013 with the Chelyabinsk occasion- asteroids do still amaze us. According to the database maintained by NASA, there are only three asteroids of a similar size or superior to have been so close since the beginning of the twentieth century.
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