Less than 3 weeks ago, an asteroid the size of a building slipped past Earth from a distance about halfway to the moon.
Now a similar space rock, asteroid 2017 BX, discovered only a few days ago, is about to zoom by our helpless planet.
The new near-Earth object (NEO), dubbed asteroid 2017 BX, was only discovered a few days ago, on Friday, January 20. It swang Tuesday night at 11:54 p.m. ET at a distance of about 162,000 miles (261,000 kilometers) — roughly two-thirds the way to the moon.
Asteroid 2017 BX is similar to asteroid 2017 AG13, which flew by Earth on Monday, January 9. But this new asteroid is much smaller, at roughly 13 to 46 feet (4 to 14 meters) across and is moving at half the speed, approximately 16,600 miles (26,700 kilometers) per hour.
This is too small and too slow-moving of a rogue space rock to pose any real harm to Earth.
If its path had targeted our planet, and if it had been a loose pile of rocks (as most asteroids are) and not a metallic asteroid, it would had been disintegrating thousands of feet in the air, according to an asteroid-impact simulator called “Impact Earth!” by Purdue University.
However, the last-minute detection of 2017 BX is just another example of how blind we are to the millions of NEOs that could smack into our planet and release many atomic bombs’ worth of energy.
Now imagine 300,000 much-larger rocks out there that are big enough and moving fast enough to wipe out a major city. Good night, Sleep tight!