In one of the closest approaches ever recorded in human history, an asteroid that had the size of an SUV passed just 2950 kilometers (1,830 miles) above the surface of the earth. NASA has confirmed this news, and in a recent statement, the space agency revealed that even a probable collision could not have resulted in an impact on the surface, as this tiny space body would have disintegrated in the earth's atmosphere.
Asteroid that zipped above Southern Indian Ocean
According to NASA, this asteroid named 2020 QG was three to six meters long, and it passed above the Southern Indian Ocean on last Sunday. The US space agency revealed that the space rock was apparently traveling at a speed of 12.3 kilometers per second at the time of its close approach.
It should be noted that most of the geostationary satellites are located almost 22,000 miles above the earth's surface, and this asteroid had flown at an altitude much below these manmade satellites.
The dark memories of the Chelyabinsk incident
Even though NASA is tracking all near-earth objects (NEO), several small space rocks go unnoticed in the space agency's radar. One such incident resulted in chaos in Chelyabinsk when a 66 feet long asteroid underwent a mid-air explosion in 2013. Now known as the Chelyabinsk incident, this mid-air explosion injured more than 1,000 people, and also caused several structural damages.
Possibilities of an asteroid hit in the future
It was around 66 million years ago that a giant asteroid hit the earth and resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs and several other species. Since then, no such asteroids have hit the earth, and this absence in catastrophe has played a crucial role in determining the evolution of humans.
However, space scientists including Dr. Iain McDonald strongly believe that devastating events like asteroid hits are not confined to the past, and they predict the possibilities of such impacts in the future too. In order to combat such an impact, NASA is developing a planetary defense weapon aimed at deflecting an incoming asteroid.