School Bus-Size Asteroid Approaching Earth – Here’s How Close NASA Says It Will Come

Asteroid 2020 SW

This illustration exhibits a near-Earth asteroid like asteroid 2020 SW touring by area. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Roughly 15 to 30 ft huge, the thing will make its closest method on September 24.

A small near-Earth asteroid (or NEA) will briefly go to Earth’s neighborhood on Thursday, September 24, zooming previous at a distance of about 13,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) above our planet’s floor. The asteroid will make its shut method under the ring of geostationary satellites orbiting about 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) away from Earth.

Based on its brightness, scientists estimate that 2020 SW is roughly 15 to 30 ft (5 to 10 meters) huge — or in regards to the measurement of a small college bus. Although it’s not on an affect trajectory with Earth, if it had been, the area rock would virtually definitely break up excessive within the environment, changing into a brilliant meteor often known as a fireball.

“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year,” mentioned Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two.”

Asteroid 2020 SW Earth

This animation from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies depicts asteroid 2020 SW’s trajectory because it safely passes Earth on Sept. 24, 2020. Also proven is the situation of a typical geosynchronous satellite tv for pc (labeled “GEOSAT”), orbiting 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above Earth’s equator. Image credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech

After asteroid 2020 SW was found on September 18 by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, follow-up observations confirmed its orbital trajectory with excessive precision, ruling out any probability of affect. CNEOS scientists decided that it’ll make its closest method at 4:12 a.m. PDT (7:12 a.m. EDT) on September 24 over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. After Thursday’s shut method, the asteroid will proceed its journey across the Sun, not returning to Earth’s neighborhood till 2041, when it’ll make a way more distant flyby.

In 2005, Congress assigned NASA the aim of discovering 90% of the near-Earth asteroids which can be about 460 ft (140 meters) or bigger in measurement. These bigger asteroids pose a a lot higher risk in the event that they had been to affect, and they are often detected a lot farther away from Earth, as a result of they’re merely a lot brighter than the small ones. It is believed that there are over 100 million small asteroids like 2020 SW, however they’re onerous to find except they get very near Earth.

“The detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid surveys are continually improving, and we should now expect to find asteroids of this size a couple of days before they come near our planet,” added Chodas.

A division of Caltech in Pasadena, JPL hosts CNEOS for NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program in NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. More details about CNEOS, asteroids, and near-Earth objects may be discovered at:

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