The asteroid’s near-miss saw the rocky body approach Earth from almost as far as the Moon is. NASA’s asteroid tracking systems said the flyby took place on the morning of Tuesday, January 28.
NASA’s trackers have dubbed the asteroid 2020 BJ7 after the date of its discovery on January 24 this year.
Yesterday, the rock shot past our planet on a so-called “Earth close approach” trajectory.
NASA said the rock arrived in our corner of space around 7.59am GMT (2.59am EST).
During the flyby, the asteroid was hurling through space at speeds of about 20.25km per second or 45,297mph (72,900km/h).
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Asteroid 2020 BJ7 is an Apollo-type rock racing around the Sun on a path that crosses the Earth’s orbit similarly to Asteroid 1862 Apollo.
The space rock has also been dubbed a near-Earth object or NEO, meaning it can come unusually close to our planet.
NASA said: “Some asteroids and comets follow orbital paths that take them much closer to the Sun and therefore Earth – than usual.
“If a comet or asteroid’s approach brings it to within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun, we call it a near-Earth object.
“One astronomical unit is close to the mean distance between the Sun and Earth approximately 150 million kilometres – about 93 million miles.”
NASA added the gravitational tug of other bodies in the solar system can occasionally nudge space rocks into Earth-bound trajectories.
One astronomical unit is close to the mean distance between the Sun and Earth
Asteroids of various sizes have slammed into Earth in the past, even pushing the dinosaurs to extinction 66 million years ago.
Thankfully Asteroid BJ7 is not large enough to be considered a life-ending threat.
NASA’s trackers estimate the rock measures somewhere in the range of just 19.6ft to 42.6ft (6m to 13m) across.
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At the upper end of the estimate, the asteroid is just larger than a London doubledecker bus.
At the lower end of NASA’s estimate, the space rock is comparable in height to an adult giraffe.
NASA believes any object up to about 82ft (25m) across will disintegrate before hitting the surface of the planet, should it hit Earth.
Larger asteroids and meteors could be potentially devastating if they ever strike an urban area.
Asteroid BJ7 approached the planet on Tuesday from a distance of about 0.00318 astronomical units (au) or 1.24 lunar distances (LD).
In other words, the space rock just missed Earth by a margin of about 295,599 miles (475,721km).
The distance is only 1.24 times as far as the Moon is from our planet.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, NEOs can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
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