According to NASA Near-Earth Objects or NEOs, are all comets and asteroids on orbital trajectories that come astronomically close to our planet, in a majority of cases harmlessly zipping past Earth without threatening impact
A space rock identified as C0PPEV1 was spotted in the early morning hours of 31 October by the Catalina Sky Survey, based in Arizona, and soon after by New Mexico’s Magdalena Ridge Observatory and Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon Steward Observatory, writes CNET.
Simulations show the asteroid passing above southern Africa within 3,852 miles (6,200 km) at the moment of closest approach, around 7:45 a.m. PT. To get an idea of how close this is, consider that many telecommunications satellites orbit at an altitude of 22,236 miles (35,786 km).
In about 45 minutes from now (now = 10/31/19 7:00 am PDT), newly-discovered #asteroid C0PPEV1 will pass only 6200 km above Earth's surface. 45 minutes ago it was passing through Earth's shadow.
This is much closer than our geostationary satellites. https://t.co/q4qKuaUHjb pic.twitter.com/jsG2kaBY4O
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) October 31, 2019
To put that into perspective, telecoms satellites orbit at 22,236 miles (35,786km) while the ISS orbits at an altitude of 250 miles.
Thankfully, the asteroid safely passed us at a speed of nearly 27,000 miles per hour (43,452kph).
Of course, asteroids have hit us as recently as 2013, when 1,200 people were treated for injuries following the Chelyabinsk incident in Russia, which blew out windows and damaged several thousand buildings.
C0PPEV1 likely measures between just two and seven meters in diameter, so even if it had hit us, it would not have caused as much damage as the Chelyabinsk asteroid which was was 20 meters in diameter and traveled at a speed of between 40,000 and 42,900mph.
The latest close shave once again puts into perspective how vulnerable we are to asteroid strikes despite NASA and other space agencies’ best efforts to catalogue all of the potentially hazardous space rocks out there.