An asteroid passed within 39,000 miles of Earth on Friday, which is less than one-fifth the distance to the moon.
The asteroid dubbed as 2018 CB approximately measured around 15 meters to 40 meters and was most probably larger than the space rock that exploded over Russia five years ago. However, there was no cause for worry, according to NASA.
“Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013,” said Paul Chodas, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet -- maybe only once or twice a year.”
Second Asteroid To Pass Close To Earth
2018 CB was the second asteroid to pass close to Earth last week. The first one, designated 2018 CC, had its nearest approach to Earth on Feb. 6 at 3:10 p.m. EST. It came as near as 184,000 kilometers to Earth and was estimated to be around 15 to 30 meters in size.
Astronomers discovered the approach of 2018 CB and 2018 CC with the help of the Catalina Sky Survey, which has been funded by NASA. CSS is based near Tucson in Arizona.
Nothing To Worry About
2018 CB did not hit Earth as it just flew past. The planet has had many close encounters with space rocks that have thankfully missed smashing into it by a small distance. Asteroids mostly orbit in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, however, they make a flyby between the Earth and the moon many times in a month.
Researchers and astronomers can observe the close-approaching asteroids and collect data about the composition, shape, and size of the space rocks. At present, no known asteroids pose an immediate threat to Earth.
A massive asteroid dubbed Apophis, with an estimated measurement of 300 meters, will fly by Earth at just one-tenth the distance between the Earth and moon in 2029.
Why Are Many Asteroids Being Spotted?
The U.S. space agency is constantly working on understanding how to decimate any space object that is a potential threat to Earth. It spots about 1,500 new near-Earth objects annually. Technological advancements have allowed NASA to detect a higher number of objects flying past the planet.
“Over the years, we have improved our capabilities to find these smaller asteroids," said astronomer Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope Project. "This is why we apparently have such a higher frequency of close encounters.”
Asteroid flybys can be viewed live through VTP. It utilizes remote-controlled telescopes to track near-Earth objects.