A school bus-sized asteroid will pass very close to Earth on Thursday (24), reaching just 22,000 kilometers away from the planet’s surface, according to the Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objects (CNEOS) , from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Discovered last Friday (18), by astronomers from the Mount Lemmon Survey, in the United States, the celestial body named 2020 SW is probably between 4.4 meters and 9.9 meters in length, a measure estimated based on its brightness. .
Traveling at an average speed of 27,720 kilometers per hour, it will reach a distance less than the orbit of geostationary satellites, located 36 thousand kilometers from the Earth’s surface.
The expectation is that its maximum approach will happen around 8:18 am (Brasília time), this Thursday morning, over the southeast Pacific Ocean.
No reason to panic
Despite the small distance this star will reach from our surface, it should not collide with the planet, according to NASA. Thus, the American space agency says there is no reason to panic.
And even if it were on a collision course with Earth, the asteroid 2020 SW would possibly not cause further damage. According to CNEOS experts, it is almost certain that it would break when entering the atmosphere, transforming itself into a brilliant fireball-like meteor.
“There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one and several of them approach our planet several times a year,” commented CNEOS director Paul Chodas. Also according to him, space rocks of similar size to this one impact the atmosphere once or twice a year, on average.
“The detection capabilities of NASA’s asteroid research are continually improving, and we must now find objects of this size a few days before they approach,” added the expert.