Astronomers discovered an asteroid the size of a car when it approached Earth on December 17, and it flew over our planet from a distance closer to us than communication satellites.
Scientists spotted this space rock for the first time by the Catalina Sky Survey, based in Arizona, last Saturday, the same day it approached Earth, exactly when it was 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometers) from our planet.
And if this asteroid, called 2022 YO1, which is classified from the category of Apollo asteroids, which swim in near-Earth orbits, and has an estimated diameter of between 2.7 and 5.9 meters, collides directly with our planet, it is likely to cause little or no damage, and it will burn almost completely in Atmosphere. It can also generate a huge fireball. This is compared to the fireball that exploded over Russia in 2013, destroying thousands of windows without causing further damage, those that were estimated to be about 40 meters in size, or 10 times the size of 2022 YO1.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of asteroid 2022 YO1 is that it is the sixth closest asteroid observed by astronomers flying near us this year alone. This is an indication of the improvement of their surveys in discovering more objects in the near-Earth environment.
In fact, The Watchers notes, of the 50 closest flights to our planet ever recorded, seven were seen in 2022.
This may not be the last pass of 2022 YO1 in front of our planet, as early models of its orbital path through the inner solar system indicate that it will return to pass again near Earth in 2024.
And while astronomers continue to classify and track more asteroids and comets, the biggest concern on our planet from these objects remains humanity’s few blind spots.
We have relatively few observatories observing the southern hemisphere, and we also struggle to detect some objects coming from the direction of the sun.
NASA hopes to address this significant gap by launching the NEO Surveyor mission as early as November 2028.