An Asteroid Just Barely Missed Earth, Flying Closer Than the Moon

The asteroid was roughly half the size created to be detected by NEOCam, an infra-red telescope surveying the sky for potentially damaging asteroids that have orbits intersecting with Earth's.

Dubbed 2017 AG3, the near-Earth object (NEO) came close to our planet flying at a proximity equivalent to about half the distance between the Earth and the moon at a speed of 9.9 miles per second. Slooh also said that the asteroid did not only cross earth, but also crossed Venus.

Slooh video also revealed that 2017 AG3 was similar to the asteroid that happened in 2013 in Russia, Chelyabinsk that caused a little damage to buildings.

"This is moving very quickly, very nearby to us", Slooh astronomer Eric Feldman said during a live broadcast of the flyby.

2017 AG3 was approximately big as the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. The Chelyabinsk blast shattered windows and caused minor damage to buildings over a wide area. In that instance, more than 1 000 people were injured. In fact, about 38 more "close approaches" like asteroid 2017 AG3's are expected within the month of January alone, according to NASA's Near Earth Object Program.

Mark Sykes from Planetary Science Institute says that the event was interesting because it occurs so rarely.

The asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey, just before it intruded earth orbit.

An illustration of a near-Earth object, or NEO, passing near Earth. We could slam an impactor into an asteroid to change its course while it's still far away or, in a last-ditch scenario, hit it with with a nuke. But unfortunately, NASA has just passed on the full $450 million funding for a telescope called the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) that would do just that, leaving our asteroid-detecting future uncertain.

Such strikes occur about once every 150 years, according to Purdue.

The asteroid, 2017 AG13, is between 36 and 111 feet long. Millions of asteroids are thought to cruise through space in Earth's neighborhood, and astronomers have detected just 15,000 of them to date.

Although it may be of some use or significance for Earth inhabitants, NASA has refused to fund a mission to spot and predict the entry or approximation of near-Earth objects, which would require sending a specialized satellite to capture and locate them from afar.

  • Essie Rivera