A newly-identified asteroid is expected to fly at a safe distance from Earth on Wednesday. Discovered on April 11th, Asteroid 2020 GH2 is around 43 to 70 feet (13 to 21 meters) and is set to pass by our planet at a distance of 220,000 miles (354,005 kilometers).
The distance puts it approximately 16,000 miles (25,749 kilometers) closer than the Moon, but it doesn’t make it a threat to the Earth. In order to better understand the scale of those distances, a researcher at NASA‘s Planetary Defense Group posted a video to Twitter, using a basketball to stand for Earth and a tennis ball to depict the Moon.
At that level, the two objects would be located about 25 feet (7.62 meters) apart. A cosmic body like an asteroid would be less than the size of a grain of salt, which is allegedly still too large a scale model.
An asteroid flyby would only be concerning at a gap where it could clash with weather satellites, which are placed approximately 22,000 miles (35,405 kilometers) away from our planet.
Asteroid close approaches happen sometimes, but just how "close" is a close approach? Do this #NASAatHome activity with Dr. Kelly Fast from NASA's #PlanetaryDefense Coordination Office (PDCO) to find out!
More about NASA’s PDCO: https://t.co/pxKEMkVdRz
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 31, 2020
The asteroid was found by the Mount Lemmon Survey located in Arizona, a campaign funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO). After it was discovered, Italy’s Virtual Telescope Project photographed the movement of the space rock.
“This is an incredible capture, as the hardware tracked this moving target to perfection for a long time,” the project’s founder, Gianluca Masi, wrote in a blog post.
Close asteroid browses are not rare, but NASA keeps measures and monitors space rocks in order to prepare and handle potential collisions. Later in April, an asteroid half the size of Mount Everest is allegedly set to pass by our planet, but at a distance of more than 15 times that of the Moon. On April 29th, the possible dangerous Asteroid 1998 OR2 will flyby Earth at about 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) away.