NASA | JPL-Caltech | 2020 Aug 18
An SUV-size space rock flew past our planet over the weekend and was detected by a NASA-funded asteroid survey as it departed.
Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).
At roughly 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) across, asteroid 2020 QG is very small by asteroid standards: If it had actually been on an impact trajectory, it would likely have become a fireball as it broke up in Earth's atmosphere, which happens several times a year.
By some estimates, there are hundreds of millions of small asteroids the size of 2020 QG, but they are extremely hard to discover until they get very close to Earth. The vast majority of NEAs pass by safely at much greater distances - usually much farther away than the Moon.
"It's really cool to see a small asteroid come by this close, because we can see the Earth's gravity dramatically bend its trajectory," said Paul Chodas ... "Our calculations show that this asteroid got turned by 45 degrees or so as it swung by our planet." ...
ZTF Finds Closest Known Asteroid to Fly By Earth
California Institute of Technology | 2020 Aug 18