Last weekend, two asteroids made a close approach to our planet and NASA only found out about it after the space rocks safely skimmed past us, Newsweek reports.
Granted, the two asteroids were pretty tiny and didn’t pose any danger. Dubbed 2018 NX and 2018 NV, the space rocks only measured between 16 feet (almost 5 meters) and 50 feet (15 meters) across — relatively modest dimensions as far as near-Earth asteroids go.
By comparison, the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu that’s headed for us from 54 million miles (almost 87 million kilometers) away and is expected to reach Earth in 2135 is 1,640 feet wide (500 meters), as reported by the Inquisitr.
At the same time, near-Earth asteroid Ryugu is even larger. Lying 180 million miles (300 million kilometers) from our planet, the asteroid has an estimated diameter of 3,000-foot-wide (900 meters), the Inquisitr recently reported.
Although tiny, our recent visitors have managed to slip very close by Earth — closer than the moon, in fact.
Asteroids 2018 NX and 2018 NV scooted past our planet at a third of the lunar distance, or the distance between us and the moon, coming within 72,000 miles (115,000 kilometers) and 76,000 miles (122,000 kilometers) of Earth, respectively.
The two space rocks were only spotted hours after they popped by for a close visit and were picked up on Sunday (July 8) by astronomers at an observatory on the Palomar Mountain range in California.
Although 2018 NX and 2018 NV buzzed Earth at the same time, the two asteroids didn’t travel together and don’t form a binary asteroid like near-Earth asteroid 2017 YE5, which turned out to be a pair of twin space rocks, the Inquisitr reported earlier today.
According to Daily Star, NASA said that the two asteroids didn’t pass close enough to penetrate our planet’s atmosphere.
Four Other Close Encounters In The Last Four Months
This is the latest in a series of five close encounters that Earth has had in five consecutive months.
In early June, the even tinier asteroid 2018 LA actually smashed into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over Botswana, one of its fragments being recovered from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve at the beginning of this month, as reported by the Inquisitr.
In May, asteroid 2010 WC9 — a space rock about the size of the Statue of Liberty — whizzed past Earth at half the lunar distance, in one of the closest approaches ever observed of an asteroid of this size, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
In mid-April, another asteroid darted past us as half the distance between Earth and the moon, per an Inquisitr report. Dubbed 2018 GE3, the football field-sized space rock was detected hours after it swung by, similar to 2018 NX and 2018 NV.
At the beginning of March, yet another space rock skimmed past our planet, this time coming even closer than all the others listed above. Known as 2018 DV1, the bus-sized asteroid (roughly 23 feet, or 7 meters, in diameter) approached less than one-third of the lunar distance, coming in at around 65,000 miles (or about 105.000 km) from the surface of our planet, the Inquisitr reported.