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A ‘surprise’ asteroid just flew past Earth closer than the moon

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On Monday morning a giant asteroid flew by Earth.

The rock, which was between 15 and 34 metres long, had only been discovered on Saturday, which gave us less than two days to prepare for a possible impact.

Moving at a rate of 9.9 miles per second, the asteroid came as close as half the distance from Earth, as the moon – only just missing our planet, according to Slooh.

What if the asteroid had impacted Earth?

Researchers at Purdue University, created an online simulator that calculates possible outcomes of impacting with a space object, called Impact: Earth. They argue that the impact would not have caused significant damage.

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Picture: Impact: Earth!/screengrab

 

For example, if a rock, of porous material at 34 metres long hit the planet, it would have exploded.

The resulting blast would have released more power than that of the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima, however, given a 10-mile distance; the explosion would not have affected the ground.

There may have been some broken windows, but the likelihood is that the impact will have emitted a “high altitude boom”. 

Despite the asteroid’s proximity, these cases are not unusual, and according to Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program, there have been over 38 such “close approaches” in January alone.

HT Science Alert


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