(ORDO NEWS) — Last night a completely new asteroid flew past the Earth, which approached our planet at a distance closer than the Moon.
Asteroid 2020 RF3 flew within one lunar distance – the distance between the Earth and the Moon, making it the 61st asteroid to fly over this year. Astronomers only discovered the asteroid on September 12, 2020, shortly before it approached last night.
The space rock, which was discovered by astronomers with the PAN-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, was only 0.24 lunar distances, or 92,000 kilometers, from Earth. Asteroid RF3 is small space rock with an estimated diameter of 5.3 to 12 meters.
The asteroid belongs to the Aton group of space stones, which are asteroids whose orbit is in the immediate vicinity of the Earth. According to NASA, there are more than 1,100 Aton asteroids in the solar system.
Most of the Aten asteroids pose no threat to Earth, and this one is no exception. Even if the asteroid were 12 meters in diameter, it would have burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere in the event of a collision with it.
However, NASA has designated the asteroid as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), allowing the space agency to study it.
“NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been pushed by the gravitational pull of nearby planets into orbits, allowing them to enter the vicinity of the Earth. Scientific interest in comets and asteroids is largely due to their status as relatively unchanging remnants of space debris that formed during the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
“The outer giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from a cluster of billions of comets, and the remnants of this formation process are the comets that we see today.”
“Similarly, today’s asteroids are debris left over from the original cluster of inner planets, including Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.”
It is the second asteroid in less than a month that NASA was unable to detect until the last minute. In late August, asteroid 2020 QG, which is roughly the size of a car, flew even closer from our planet, making it the closest passing asteroid is known to experts.
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