Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Asteroid Zooms Close to Earth Surprising Astronomers

Asteroid Zooms Close to Earth Surprising Astronomers

Space.com said 2018 GE3 was up to 3.6 times the size of the space rock that levelled 2000sq km of Siberian forest when it exploded over Siberia in June 1908.

The last time a giant asteroid swept by within half the lunar distance was in 2002, reports CNET, when asteroid 2002 MN missed Earth by just 120,000 kilometers (74,564 miles) on June 14. That's closer than the moon, which orbits Earth at an average distance of 238,900 miles.

A medium-sized asteroid buzzed by Earth just hours after being detected this weekend.

The April asteroid, however, traveling at a speed of about 66,000 miles per hour, would have likely broken down "due to friction with the air" as soon as it entered Earth's atmosphere, EarthSky reported.

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The asteroid which flies past by Earth on Sunday was about six times the size of the meteor that was exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains in Chelyabinsk in the month of February during the year 2013.

"But it is still possible the next Tunguska would take us by surprise, and although we are much better at finding larger asteroids, that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them".

The asteroid, dubbed 2018 GE3, passed by Earth at 2:41 EDT Sunday morning and was estimated to be between 157 to 361 feet in diameter. But according to Andrew Rader, a researcher and engineer at SpaceX, 2018 GE3 is "vast enough to destroy a city".

Will 2018 GE3 collide with the Earth one day? It has since been labeled 2018 GE3 and it passed by the planet at close range mere hours after detection.

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According to NASA, an object over 25 meters in diameter would cause "local damage around the impact zone".

"If 2018 GE3 had hit Earth, it would have caused regional, not global, damage, and might have disintegrated in the atmosphere before reaching the ground", Spaceweather.com explained in a Facebook post.

"A preliminary analysis of the orbit of 2018 GE shows this is the closest this particular space rock has come to Earth at least since 1930", EarthSky reports.

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