That gives 2020 QG the title of closest asteroid flyby ever recorded that didn’t end with the space rock’s demise. It’s the closest known, non-impacting asteroid, said NASA officials in the below video.
The close flyby was also a fast one, as 2020 QG swooped near Earth at a blistering 27,600 mph (44,400 kph). The object is about the size of a compact car, perhaps about 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) in diameter.
According to the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, 2020 QG flew over the Pacific Ocean, far east of Australia, during its close approach.
To explore the daredevil asteroid for yourself, you can check out NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s small-body database browser here.
The flyby wasn’t expected and took many by surprise. In fact, the Palomar Observatory didn’t detect the zooming asteroid until about six hours after the object’s closest approach.
“The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the sun. We didn’t see it coming. Yesterday’s close approach is [the] closest on record. If you discount a few known asteroids that have actually impacted our planet,” said Paul Chodas, the director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies.
Well, the next question is when such an unexpected flyby will crash on Earth? There are a few months left in this surprising 2020…
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