The asteroid flew at a record distance from Earth

For some people, this may be frightening news, but at any moment an asteroid could collide with our planet. Scientists claim that collisions can occur several times a year, but most asteroids are discovered at the last moment or only after a collision. Recently, an Indian student named Kunal Deshmukh was studying fresh photographs of outer space and noticed a suspicious asteroid-like object. Soon the fact of its discovery was confirmed by employees of several ground-based observatories at once to track celestial bodies. The celestial object, referred to as 2020 QG, flew at a record close distance from Earth, but in the end flew past and did not collide with it. But what would happen if the asteroid was heading straight towards our planet and scientists could not detect it in time? Did our lives hang in the balance and we were miraculously saved?

Photo taken by the ZTF telescope

Asteroid flew past the Earth

Asteroid 2020 QG flew by near the Earth was reported on the website of the California Institute of Technology (USA) . It was discovered with the Zwicky Observation Telescope (ZTF). He regularly takes pictures of the starry sky in the photo and gives the resulting frames for study by a special computer algorithm. Every night, the system sorts 100,000 photographs and, on average, detects about a thousand frames with suspicious objects. These photographs are being studied by humans and asteroid 2020 QG was spotted on one of them. As stated above, the object was found by an Indian student. By that time, the asteroid had already flown past our planet and nothing threatened us. However, it could not threaten.

Telescope ZTF

Asteroid dimensions

The exact size of asteroid 2020 QG is unknown, but its diameter was clearly less than six meters. He, like many other asteroids, could not do any harm to our planet. Yes, it would collide with the Earth's atmosphere, but it would burn up very quickly in it. Not only did his route not involve a collision, but Earth's gravity also changed his direction by about 45 degrees. Ultimately, the asteroid flew at a distance of 2.95 thousand kilometers from the surface of our planet. This is lower than the location of artificial earth satellites, but higher than the location of the International Space Station. The asteroid's closest approach occurred on August 16, at 19:08 Moscow time. According to the calculations of the researchers, the speed of the space object was 12.3 kilometers per second.

Asteroid trajectory

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Nearest asteroids

The discovered asteroid is one of the few who flew past our planet at close range and did not burn up in its atmosphere. The previous record for the closest distance belongs to the asteroid 2011 CQ1, which, as the name implies, flew past us in 2011. He approached the Earth at a distance of 5.48 thousand kilometers, so this record is now considered broken. According to the researchers, such approximations happen several times a year, but a significant part of them go unnoticed.

Asteroid trajectory 2011 CQ1

However, sometimes there are cases when asteroids do collide with the Earth and cause powerful explosions. In mid-December 2018, the most powerful explosion since the Chelyabinsk meteorite occurred over the Bering Sea. It was initiated by an asteroid about 10 meters in diameter, a mass of 1.4 thousand tons and a speed of about 32 kilometers per second, which collided with our planet. The explosion took place at an altitude of 25.6 kilometers. On the videos made by the Terra (USA) and Himawari-8 (Japan) satellites, the moment of the explosion is faintly visible. Explorers of exploding meteorites even looked for eyewitnesses among aircraft passengers, because the explosion occurred near the air routes connecting Asia and North America.

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Artificial intelligence is looking for potentially dangerous asteroids for our planet. Recently, my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova talked about how 11 asteroids were seen, which may well be dangerous for the Earth. The material turned out to be interesting, so I recommend reading it !

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