Astronomers have said that while it is a real threat, the chances of an asteroid hitting Earth are slim. Fortunately. However, last Wednesday (24/07), our planet was almost hit by one of them. And when we say almost, we are saying that it was very close indeed. Worst of all, scientists did not even realize the threat of the asteroid well in advance so that they could, if necessary, take action and care.
The asteroid, known as the “city killer”, is not called that by chance. Named 2019 OK, the asteroid is a gigantic piece of space rock. The asteroid passed about 73,000 kilometers from our planet, a relatively short distance. This is equivalent to 1/5 of the distance between Earth and the Moon, approximately 384,000 kilometers. If you are going to put this on an astronomical scale, it would be considered the so-called “for a close call”. Something that really left us in danger.
Most worrying, in this case, was not even the proximity to what the asteroid passed from the planet, but the fact that it was only detected shortly before the approach. If it hit the planet, we would all be taken by surprise.
Asteroid 2019 OK was traveling at 24 kilometers per second and was only seen by the Brazilian observatory SONEAR a few days in advance of its passage. The asteroid passed about 73,000 kilometers away from Earth . This is much closer than the moon is to us. Something that makes the situation worrying, especially because the object was not detected earlier. “He approached us very quickly,” Monash University scientist Michael Brown told The Washington Post.
The newspaper also published a story, containing information and data from the US space agency itself. According to the newspaper, the 2019 Ok asteroid is estimated to be between 57 and 130 meters wide and was not on astronomers’ radar. According to them, the object appeared “out of nowhere”. They admitted that they had no idea that the giant passenger was on his way to Earth .
Astronomers say 2019 OK poses no immediate threat to us. But Alan Duffy, a scientist at the Royal Institution of Australia, told the newspaper that the asteroid’s distance from our planet is “close in an uncomfortable way.”
Duffy states that the delay in detecting asteroid 2019 Ok happened because of its size. In addition, the eclipse-shaped orbit and speed of the asteroid also made it difficult to identify. The researchers state that the time taken by 2019 Ok to get close to Earth was not long enough to observe its approach. “Nothing of this size is easy to spot. Another point is that it was in the reflected sunlight, and even being very close, it was barely visible,” Duffy said.
The last time an asteroid, of similar proportions to 2019 OK, came close to hitting Earth, was over a century ago, in 1908. Tunguska created a gigantic explosion that spread over 2,000 kilometers across the world. forest region in Siberia.
Space agencies around the world monitor the sky all the time. This is a measure to track and detect asteroids and other objects considered threatening to our planet. Although some of them, such as 2019 OK, are difficult to detect in advance, this is no reason to worry. Scientists say the risk of a potentially dangerous asteroid or meteor reaching the planet is very low.