An Asteroid The Size Of A Bus Just Zipped Past Earth!

By Meera Dolasia on February 3, 2017

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Asteroid passes close to Earth (Image Credit: ESA/NEO)

NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program has discovered and cataloged over 15,000 Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) since they began scouring the skies in 1998. However, every now and again, one manages to escape their powerful telescopes and keen eyes. This was certainly the case with asteroid 2017 BS32, which was discovered on January 30 just three days before its close encounter with Earth.

The asteroid, which was moving at 9.9 miles per second, came within 101,214 miles of our planet at about 3:23 PM (EST) on February 2. NASA researchers say though the flyby was a surprise, the space rock, estimated to be just 39 feet in diameter, would not have caused any damage even if it had hit Earth.

Photo Credit: Slooh Observatories (YouTube Screen capture)

What worries experts, however, is that 2017 BS32 is the latest in a series of previously unknown asteroids that have snuck up on us unexpectedly since the beginning of the year. On January 29, asteroid 2017 BH30 came within 32,200 miles of Earth. Measuring 19 feet wide, it was discovered just hours before the close encounter.

The largest surprise asteroid this year was 2017 AG13, which came within about half the distance between the moon and Earth. According to “Impact Earth,” an asteroid impact simulator at Purdue University, if the estimated 111-foot long space rock had hit Earth’s atmosphere, it would have exploded and released almost 700 kilotons worth of energy. While powerful, it would not result in much damage since the impact would occur 10 miles above the Earth’s surface. NASA researchers say that the asteroid was roughly the same size as the one that landed in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, which resulted in shattered windows and minor damage to a few buildings.

Trail of smoke left behind by asteroid as it makes landfall in

Paul Cox, the chief astronomical officer at Slooh Observatories, says, “It raises a few eyebrows when we see a number of close approaching NEAs (Near Earth Asteroids) over such a short period of time.” Slooh’s astronomers plan to investigate the reason for this recent barrage of space rocks, research if we have encountered anything similar in the past, and try to find the reason the asteroids were not noticed sooner.


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  1. What is the purpose of the Near Earth Object Observations Program?
  2. What is the name of the asteroid that surprised astronomers on Jan 30?

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Why is it important to monitor the path of asteroids and...

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  • spacegirl999Friday, February 24, 2017 at 7:50 am
    I love space I'm going to be an ASTRONOT!!!
    • NoFriday, February 24, 2017 at 7:31 am
      And, it may seem scary, but the time a asteroid hits the earth, we would be gone anyways
      • NoFriday, February 24, 2017 at 7:29 am
        OK, we all know that a comet, or asteroid will hit earth soon enough, just like the dinosaurs.
        • sary Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 2:55 pm
          were so safe that it did not hit us but what would happen if it did hit us
          • secretslasherThursday, February 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm
            that was so so close i am so happy we didn't get extinct like the dinosaurs!! lol
            • bla bla blaThursday, February 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm
              omg this is soooooooooooooooo scary
              • jakepauler
                jakepaulerWednesday, February 22, 2017 at 3:15 pm
                WOW! That is scary but very cool!!
                • Lexis101Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm
                  This artical is like way cool.
                  • markWednesday, February 22, 2017 at 8:28 am
                    wow thats awesome
                    • WowWednesday, February 22, 2017 at 6:03 am
                      That was so cool and nice to know about that thanks for a awesome article.

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