Intruder Alert! Asteroid Passes Inside Earth's Satellite Ring, 20 Times Nearer Than the Moon
What could be more terrifying than a potentially hazardous space rock slipping into Earth's surrounding unnoticed? Last week, a small asteroid buzzed near the planet inside Earth's satellite ring flying too close at 20 times nearer than the distance between Earth and moon.
The asteroid is less than three meters (10 feet) and it passed inside what NASA called the geosynchronous satellites or satellite ring. The asteroid, called 2017 EA, passed by the planet at 6:40 a.m. PST last Thursday, March 2.
The distance of the asteroid's approach to Earth is approximately 20 times nearer compared to the distance between Earth and the moon, according to a report. It flew at an altitude of 14,500 kilometers (9,000 miles) above the Earth specifically the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.
Although it flew at a very close distance, asteroid 2017 EA quickly reverted back to the daylight thus hindering further observations of the space rock, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. During the approach, the space rock was visible using ground-based telescopes.
The alarming fact is that the time it needed to detect or spot the asteroid is almost too close for comfort. It was detected 6 hours before the closest approach, and if it happened that the approaching space rock is hurtling towards the surface of the Earth, a 6-hour allowance to prepare is definitely not enough.
The Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA-funded project, detected the approaching asteroid. Other astronomers noted that some observatories before the approach spotted the asteroid.
Despite its elusive nature, astronomers already identify 2017 EA's orbit The Center for Near Earth Object Studies said that the asteroid is likely to return but in the next 100 years.
The asteroid may have gone too close to the planet, but hobbyist and enthusiasts were not obstructed by fear, instead some took advantage of the close approach to watch the asteroid using a telescope.