It didn't go far!
On Thursday, a small asteroid the size of a truck passed by without doing any damage, NASA said.
Unlike Hollywood scenarios, no mission to blow it up or deviate from its trajectory with missiles was necessary.
The asteroid, named 2023 BU, passed at most of its course 3,600 kilometers from the surface of the Earth, much closer than many geostationary satellites orbiting the planet.
The space object was spotted for the first time on Saturday from an observatory in Crimea, by amateur astronomer Gennady Borissov, also the discoverer of the interstellar comet Borissov in 2019. Dozens of observations were then made by observatories around the world, confirming the arrival of 2023 BU.
The risk of collision removed very quickly
NASA's impact hazard assessment system, Scout, quickly ruled out a collision with Earth.
"Despite the very few sightings, he was still able to predict that the asteroid would make an extraordinarily close approach to Earth," said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which developed Scout.
It is "one of the closest approaches by a near-Earth object [an asteroid or a comet whose orbit crosses that of the Earth, editor's note] ever recorded", adds the scientist.
If the calculations had been wrong, however, humanity would probably have been fine, the scientists say.
The asteroid, which measures between 3.5 and 8.5 meters in diameter, would have largely disintegrated in our atmosphere, potentially only dropping some debris in the form of small meteorites.
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