Asteroid is detected hours before it is closest to Earth in 2021

A small asteroid, identified by NASA as 2021 RS2, became the closest-to-Earth fragment in the year 2021 just hours after it was located by the US Space Agency’s systems.

According to the Center for Small Objects Close to Earth (CNEOS), which constantly monitors asteroids and other space debris, the 2021 RS2 came as close as possible on September 7, at 4:28 am (GMT).

The distance was really short in astronomical terms: the asteroid was 15,340 km from the Earth’s surface, measured slightly larger than the planet’s diameter.

However, the 2021 RS2 is a small fragment, only 3.5 meters in diameter. According to researcher Eddie Irizarry, who collaborated with an analysis of the case for the specialized website “EarthSky”, the asteroid would likely disintegrate as soon as it reached Earth’s atmosphere.

The moment could cause at least some visual spectacle.

According to Irizarry, asteroids like these are difficult to detect in advance, but generally they all end up eventually being identified by high-tech surveillance by NASA and other space agencies.