According to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an asteroid flew past Earth just days after scientists have discovered it. The asteroid, named 2017 BS32, went as close as 161,280 kilometers to our planet.
Asteroid 2017 BS32 flew past Earth on February 2, Thursday. According to experts, it is around 24-meter big.
It belongs to a group of asteroids dubbed Atens. Thousands of asteroids of this type have been declared as potentially hazardous to us due to their close distance from Earth.
The scientists only became aware of its existence recently because smaller asteroids are difficult to detect. Also, such smaller objects can be spotted only a few days before their closest approach to our planet. Moreover, clouds and rain can also affect its detection. The bright light from the moon also keeps small asteroids from being discovered sooner.
Others have expressed their concerns about this asteroid’s close encounter to Earth. However, according to scientists, asteroids flying very close to the planet are more common than anyone thinks.
“It raises a few eyebrows when we see a number of close approaching NEAs over such a short period of time,” said Slooh astronomer Paul Cox, Space.com reports. “We’ll investigate how this could be.”
The next asteroid expected to approach close to Earth would be the 2016 WF9. This was spotted in November. It is around 0.4 kilometers and 0.9 kilometers wide. On February 25, scientists expect it to come as near as 51 kilometers from Earth.
According to NASA, asteroids that can be fatal to us are very rare. Each year, the planet gets hit by asteroids the size of a car. But if an asteroid would have to destroy life on Earth, it must be at least a quarter of mile wide. Nevertheless, such asteroids can only hit the planet once every 1,000 centuries.
An example of an asteroid of such capability is called Gliese 710. Experts say that when it approaches Earth, it would push other asteroids from the solar system and would wipe out life on the planet. Still, this catastrophic asteroid will appear 1.35 million years later, which is when humans probably ceased to exist already. Other asteroids that can damage a city or cause a tsunami also strikes Earth once every 1,000 to 10,000 years.
Overall, scientists assert that the risk of a fatal asteroid crashing on our planet any time soon is very small. But they say that it is possible that such kind of an asteroid can hit us if it has not been spotted.