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An asteroid the size of a car was discovered on the same day as it came close to Earth from a ring of large telecommunications satellites in Earth Synchronous Orbit (22,236 miles or 35,786 kilometers above us).
The space rock was first spotted by the Arizona-based Catalina Sky Survey on Saturday, just as it came within 13,000 miles (21,000 km) of our planet.
If the asteroid is cataloged as 2022 YO1, if it hit our planet directly, it would probably do little or no damage and burn up almost completely in the atmosphere. However, it can create a fireball. Recall that the bolide that exploded over Russia in 2013, blowing out thousands of windows but causing no other damage, was estimated to be about 40 meters across, or 10 times the size of YO1 2022.
What’s perhaps remarkable about YO1 2022 is that it’s the sixth closest astronomers have seen an asteroid fly by this year alone. This shows that our surveys are getting better at detecting more objects in the near-Earth environment.
In fact, as Observers point outSeven of the 50 closest objects recorded so far have been seen in 2022.
This may not be the last time we see the YO1 in 2022. Early models of its orbital path through the inner solar system suggest it will return for another flyby in 2024.
As astronomers continue to catalog and track more asteroids and comets, a major concern for planetary protection is humanity’s few blind spots. We have relatively few observatories looking after the Southern Hemisphere, and we are also trying to detect some objects coming from the direction of the Sun.
The asteroid that exploded over Russia a decade ago came from this direction and was completely undetected until it exploded in the sky.
NASA hopes to close this gap with the launch NEO surveyor mission As soon as June 2028. Until then, keep an eye out!
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