A massive asteroid swung past Earth earlier today, barreling through space at more than 38,000 mph. While many small space rocks pass through our neck of the cosmic woods on a regular basis, today’s celestial visitor certainly stands out as one of the largest asteroids to skim past Earth in a while.
The space rock in question is known as asteroid 2019 CD5 and, as its name suggests, it was only discovered this year. According to NASA asteroid trackers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the space rock boasts an enormous size of up to 820 feet in diameter. This makes it one of the biggest asteroids to visit Earth in the past month.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, the last time a considerably larger asteroid wandered through our corner of space was exactly one month ago, on February 20. At the time, Earth was buzzed by an enormous 1,500-foot-wide asteroid – one almost twice as big as 2019 CD5.
First spotted on February 4, asteroid 2019 CD5 stopped by for what astronomers call an “Earth close approach” in the early hours of the morning. JPL data showed that the asteroid shot past Earth at 5:03 a.m. EST, hurtling through space at break-neck speeds of around 38,095 mph.
The space rock is estimated to measure somewhere in the range of 360.8 feet to 820 feet across. “At the upper end of that limit, the space rock is roughly 30 times the length of a London double-decker bus,” notes the British media outlet The Express.
“At the smaller end of NASA’s estimate, asteroid CD5 still stands taller than Big Ben’s clock tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Tower Bridge in London.”
— goddardhernandez (@stefsjewelry) March 19, 2019
The asteroid is a frequent traveler through our corner of the solar system. JPL specialists revealed that the space rock circles the sun once every 3.52 years, with its orbital path inevitably bringing it near our home planet on occasion. In fact, asteroid 2019 CD5 has been regularly coming around for the past century, performing close flybys of Earth since the year 1906.
Of all its close approaches over the past 113 years, today’s encounter was by far the closest one yet. JPL data showed that asteroid 2019 CD5 came within 2.4 million miles of Earth, or 10 times the distance between our planet and the moon.
The last time the space rock paid Earth a visit was seven years ago, on March 1, 2012. At the time, the asteroid only managed to slip in within 27.6 million miles of Earth, or 116 times the lunar distance.
The asteroid will return for another close flyby seven years from now. On May 22, 2026, the space rock will double back for another visit, skimming past Earth from a distance of 22 million miles.
Asteroid 2019 CD5 will continue to buzz our planet for at least another 109 years. However, its future flybys of Earth won’t be anywhere near as close as today’s close encounter.