NASA has just announced that an asteroid’s route led it alarmingly close to Earth today. The space rock, known as Asteroid 2006 QV89, a small object about 20 to 50 meters in diameter, hurtled by our planet on an extremely close trajectory.
The space agency said the asteroid dashed through space at more than 9,200mph, and its closest approach happened at around 4.54 am BST (3.54 am UTC).
Asteroid 2006 QV89 was first detected flying around the Solar System about 13 years ago when it was too dim and too small to be observed well. Since its discovery, scientists have made over 76 observations to measure the space rock’s speed, size, and trajectory.
The European Space Agency (ESA) reported that asteroids go back and forth, so it often happens they detect a flying space rock, take some measurements to discover its trajectory, and days later it’s gone. Sometimes, such objects remain unobservable for decades.
As per NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, Asteroid 2006 QV89 is a quite small Apollo-type Near-Earth Object (NEO). NEOs are comets and objects passing through the Solar System, and sometimes flying close to the Earth’s orbit.
In spite of the initial hesitation over the asteroid’s orbit 13 years ago, astronomers today have been capable of graphing the object’s trajectory.
ESA explained that new observations captured by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope during August the 10th to the 11th, unveiled the actual location of the space rock, eliminating any potential future collision threat to Earth from Asteroid 2006 QV89 for the next century.
The space rock came close to the Earth today from a relatively safe distance of approximately 0.04631 astronomical units (au). An astronomical unit is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, which is 93 million miles, or 149.6 million kilometers. Simply put, Asteroid 2006 QV89 passed by our planet from a safe distance of over 4.3 million miles, or 6.9 million kilometers.