Two asteroids shot closer to the earth than the moon this month - with more close encounters expected

The asteroids shot past on the same day, mere hours between one another

Adam Smith
Wednesday 16 September 2020 20:30
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Two asteroids have shot past the Earth this week, coming closer to the planet than the Moon – and more close encounters are expected during the rest of the year.

The first asteroid, called 2020 RD4, was between three and seven meters wide.

It passed 94,000 kilometers (58,500 miles) away on 14 September.

This is approximately one third the distance between the Earth and the Moon, which are 384,400 kilometers apart.

A second asteroid, called 2020 RF3, passed by only a few hours later.

It was between five and 11 meters wide, shooting by the planet at a distance of approximately 106,000 kilometers (65,700 miles).

The space debris was recorded by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks and predicts asteroids.

Neither bodies came near the record for the closest asteroid to pass by the Earth, which was broken in August by asteroid 2020 QG, which came just 1,830 miles over the southern Indian Ocean, but are indicative of how many objects come by the planet safely every day.

Within the next two months, many more objects are expected to pass by the planet, although only one will get as close to our planet.

Between now and the end of the year only one – asteroid RZ6 – will get closer to the Earth than our Moon.

It will pass by on 17 September, but is a staggering 27 meters wide between its most distant points.

However, this is still relatively small; an asteroid called PM7, expected to pass by at the end of the month, is an astonishing 200 meters wide.

Another celestial object is expected to pass by the Earth the day before the US presidential election in November. 

Nasa says the asteroid only has a 0.41 per cent chance of hitting the Earth.

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