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Weather Blog: Asteroid Watch

Monitoring a potentially hazardous asteroid passage.
Monitoring a potentially hazardous asteroid passage.(WRDW)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An asteroid wider than two professional football fields is expected to fly safely past Earth on Sept. 14 according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies.

The space rock, known as asteroid “2020 QL2” is more than 120 meters (393 feet) in diameter. It is expected to fly past Earth at a speed of about 24,000 mph and come within a distance of 4.2 million miles. For a source of comparison, the moon is 238,900 miles from the Earth.

Asteroid 2020 QL2 is considered “potentially hazardous” because of its large size and its relatively close proximity to Earth. The good news is that this asteroid has almost no chance of hitting the planet. NASA defines potentially hazardous NEOs as space objects that come within 0.05 astronomical units (4.6 million miles) and measure more than 460 feet in diameter. Interestingly enough, a recent survey from June of this year showed that Americans prefer a space program that focuses on potential asteroid impacts over sending humans to the Moon or Mars.

According to a 2018 report from Planetary.org there are more than 18,000 NEOs. To read more about the potential for an asteroid strike on Earth visit this link. Also check out NASA’s 20-page plan unveiled in 2018 that details steps the U.S. should take to be better prepared for NEOs such as asteroids and comets that come within 30 million miles of Earth. Unfortunately, this space object (Asteroid 2020 QL2) will be too far away for us to see from Earth as it makes its passage by our planet.

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