Car-Sized Asteroid Zoomed Close to Earth

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An asteroid the size of a compact car, sped past Earth last weekend, getting as close as 1,830 miles away. This was the nearest fly-by to the planet ever recorded by NASA. Known to astronomers as 2020 QG, the non-impacting asteroid was undetected until about six hours after its closest approach.

Space.com: A car-sized asteroid made the closest Earth flyby a space rock has ever survived

Screenshot Space.com headline

NASA officials told Space.com that a newly discovered car-sized asteroid just made the closest-known flyby to Earth without hitting our planet.

On Sunday (Aug. 16), the asteroid, initially labeled ZTF0DxQ and now formally known to astronomers as 2020 QG, swooped by Earth at a mere 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) away. 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, NASA officials said.

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. 

CBS News: A car-sized asteroid just made the closest fly-by of Earth on record — and NASA didn’t see it coming

Screenshot CBS News headline

CBS News on the other hand, reports that Asteroid 2020 QG, formerly known as ZTFoDxQ, zoomed past Earth on Sunday at 12:08 a.m. EDT, getting as close as 1,830 miles away. It marks the closest asteroid flyby ever recorded in which the object actually survived, according to NASA.

Being only about 10 to 20 feet in diameter, the asteroid was not actually big enough to pose a serious threat. If it had been on a collision course, it would have likely ended up as a fireball — an extremely bright meteor — as it broke up in Earth’s atmosphere.

The asteroid “approached Earth from the direction of the Sun and was not discovered until after it passed and could be observed in the night sky by ground-based observatories,” NASA confirmed. “By some estimates, there are hundreds of millions of small asteroids the size of 2020 QG, but they are extremely hard to discover until they get very close to Earth.

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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