A sizeable chunk of space rock just flew past our planet in what astronomers describe as an “Earth close approach.” Known as asteroid 2019 JV2, our celestial visitor darted past planet Earth in the late hours of Friday night in a close – but perfectly safe – flyby of our home world.
According to NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the space rock is a rather hefty one. Asteroid 2019 JV2 is estimated to measure anywhere between 240 feet and 525 feet in diameter. While it’s no match for the 886-foot giant that swung past Earth earlier this week, as reported by The Inquisitr at the time, asteroid 2019 JV2 is still large enough to potentially cause some serious problems should it ever venture too close for comfort.
Very recently discovered, the space rock is an Apollo-type asteroid. As such, this near-Earth asteroid zips around the solar system in a similar fashion to asteroid 1862 Apollo, occasionally crossing Earth’s orbit around the sun. As its name suggests, asteroid 2019 JV2 was only uncovered this year. In fact, the object was actually first spotted less than a week ago, on May 5. Since then, it has been kept under strict observation by NASA asteroid trackers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
After carefully monitoring its trajectory, speed, and proximity to Earth, JPL specialists determined that asteroid 2019 JV2 would perform a close flyby of our planet on the night of May 10. Surely enough, the space rock came traipsing through our corner of space as predicted, making its closest approach to Earth at 10:04 p.m. ET.
Traveling at break-neck speeds of more than 36,000 mph, the asteroid only managed to creep in within 4.3 million miles of our planet. This means that, at its closest point to Earth, asteroid 2019 JV2 was a little over 18 times more distant than the moon.
While that may sound like a vast distance by terrestrial standards, 4.3 million miles is a stone’s throw away in cosmic terms, CNEOS points out.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometers.”
Classified as a near-Earth object (NEO), asteroid 2019 JV2 swings through our neck of the cosmic woods once every few years. As CNEOS explains, near-Earth objects are celestial bodies, such as asteroids and comets, “that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood.”
The last time that Earth had a close brush with asteroid 2019 JV2 was exactly six years ago, on May 9, 2013. At the time, the object buzzed Earth from even farther away, only coming within 5.7 million miles of the planet’s surface.
The wayfaring space rock will return for another visit in 2023, and then again in 2025. After that, it will disappear for a few decades, reemerging in the year 2065.