The first NEO to buzz the Earth today is identified as 2020 AQ1 – and was only first spotted on January 11. Happily, the 755ft-diameter space rock screamed safely by us at roughly 2:54am EST, passing a mere 0.026 AU from Earth – 2.5 million miles from the planet’s core – at a speed of 61,500 miles per hour.
The asteroid will head out into the Milky Way, but it is expected to make another loop around and come back this way on August 23, 2104. Were an object of that size and velocity to hit the Earth, it could level an entire city in seconds.
Next up on Monday is 2013 DU, estimated to be up to 308 feet in diameter, travelling at a (relatively) paltry 14,226 mph, much slower than its earlier cosmic counterpart. It’s expected to pass the Earth at 9:19pm EST, at a safe distance of 0.083 AU or 3.5 million miles.
The ESA has identified 21,655 NEO asteroids and 109 NEO comets, all of which pose a potential threat to our planet. However, as shown by space rocks like 2020 AQ1, which was only discovered less than two weeks ago, there are many more potential dangers lurking out there in space.
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