Detected 6 Hours After the Fact

On August 16, 2020 undetected asteroid 2020 QG swept past Earth at a distance of 2,900 Km. Described as “truck size” ( 20 feet, 3-6 meters across ), traveling at 12.4 Km per second, 2020 QG approached from a sunward direction. Reason why astronomers didn’t see it until six hours later. Despite post event assurance there was never any danger, it’s sobering to ponder fragility of our existence. Asteroid 2020 QG now holds the record for closest “known” asteroid to pass without an Earth strike.

Animated image of tiny object passing Earth.

View larger. | This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech.

Small Earth, with green line going past it bent around where it comes nearest Earth, and also the moon's orbit shown.

View larger. | The blue ball in the lower left of this image represents Earth. The curved green arrow represents asteroid 2020 QG, whose orbit was changed by its near-Earth encounter on Sunday. The tick marks on the green line represent 30-minute intervals. You can see that this asteroid was really zooming past! Image via Minor Planet Center.

Truck-sized asteroid swept within 2,000 miles on Sunday

Science admits “gaps” in detection of sunward approaching asteroids. Current telescopes can only detect asteroids at night. When identified, orbit is calculated to determine potential for a future collision. Rather clunky if you ask me. NASA is in early stage development of a telescope to detect asteroids and comets coming from the Sun’s direction. If all goes well and funding remains in place, the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Mission could be operational by 2025.

For now all we can do is hope incoming sunward objects aren’t pesky enough to unleash calamity.

6 thoughts on “Detected 6 Hours After the Fact

  1. I apologize for being political, but the way things are going, an asteroid hit might be just what the world needs so we would all start realizing how insignificant we are (providing it only banged up the earth, not destroyed it). Then again, there would most likely be those who would want to blame someone for not “doing something” to prevent it.

    Thanks for sharing!! Just goes to show how trivial we are in the BIG picture.

  2. Calamity? Hah—been done before. Just ask them dinosaurs things … and if those of us who are quite loopy are to be credited, survivors of pre-impact civilisations.

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