On April 28th a tiny asteroid passed by our planet safely. This asteroid while small was quite interesting because of how close it came to our planet.
This asteroid was known as 2020 HS7 and it while small enough that even if it were to come into collision with our planet would not do any damage helps us learn a lot. Monitoring this extremely close flyby gave those from places like the ESA the chance to really put their defense systems to the test. This specific asteroid passed by about 26,559 miles away from the center of the Earth according to Space.com. It was actually so close that it passed just below a satellite.
Space.com wrote as follows on this topic:
According to ESA, the flyby is one of the 50 closest on record, making it rather more interesting to scientists than the much-publicized (and more distant) flyby of the larger rock 1998 OR2 the same week.
Both flybys show the way planetary defense systems are designed to work: First, identify as many asteroids as possible, starting with the largest. Then, track them long enough to plot their orbits. The more data scientists can gather, the more accurate those orbits become, hence the downgrade from 10% chance of impact to a safe miss.
If more observations instead show the impact probability increasing, alert systems are enacted to prepare areas at risk and evaluate potential mitigation approaches — but those systems weren’t necessary for 2020 HS7.
The more we work to understand and monitor the things in the sky zooming around our planet the more we can test out different things and work to figure out what kind of system works best for making people aware if something were to come into our atmosphere that was too big to burn up. While this specific one was tiny one in the future could be enormous.
For more information on this interesting flyby take a peek at the video below. It really was quite close to our planet. Things like this truly are mind-blowing. As time passes we will become better and better at monitoring these kinds of things and predicting the paths they will go down. While right now we have made a ton of progress from how things operated in the past, I can only imagine what the future holds. Watching these asteroids and comets is important and the more capable we become of doing-so the safer we also become here on Earth.