An asteroid the size of a football field buzzed by Earth Sunday in one of the closest encounters the planet has seen in a while. The estimated diameter of the space rock ranged from 131 to 328 feet, CNEOS reports.
According to NASA, it posted on its website that it is nothing as compared to asteroids which are present in between the Mars and Jupiter, whose length can spread across 580 miles. 2018 GE3 was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey approaching Earth on April 14th.
A giant asteroid gave Earth a surprise close shave this week, flying by at a distance of 192,000 kilometers, just a day after astronomers discovered the object, scientists say.
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For comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteorite that hit Russian Federation in February 2013 was about three to six times smaller in diameter, yet its explosion in the atmosphere damaged over 7,000 buildings and injured some 1,500 people due to shattered glass. "A couple of times a week, on average, an asteroid will come closer than the distance to the Moon, but most of those are hunks about the size of a bus or maybe a house". Congress tasked NASA with tracking all objects bigger than 460 feet wide, which 2018 GE3 falls shy of, but NASA has only been able to identify about one-third of the estimated total so far.
The April asteroid, however, traveling at a speed of about 66,000 miles per hour, would have likely broken down "due to friction with the air" as soon as it entered Earth's atmosphere, EarthSky reported.
If the asteroid had hit Earth, the devastation would have been regional but not global, and it's possible 2018 GE3 could have even burned up in the atmosphere before ever reaching our planet. At least three other small space rocks are set to fly past Earth on Tuesday - with the largest measuring 111 feet around. 2018 GE3 was found less than a day before before its closest approach.
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