Object serves as a reminder that there are many objects close to us that have not been discovered;
Asteroid passed at a safe distance from the planet, and did not threaten life on Earth;
Meteor is one of 15,000 whose orbits around the Sun may someday intersect with Earth.
This Thursday morning, the asteroid known as 2022 OE2 passed close to Earth, having been observed for the first time less than two weeks ago, only on July 26. The case is a reminder that many near-Earth objects have yet to be discovered.
The space rock passed at a distance considered safe, about 5 million kilometers, more than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, and it never posed any danger to our planet. It is one of 15,000 Apollo-class asteroids, which means they are orbiting the Sun in such a way that they can intersect with our own orbit.
What was astonishing was the fact that NASA found the object only on July 26, which would give little margin of reaction time if the 380-meter-wide rock was on a collision course with the planet.
NASA intends to identify and categorize all near-Earth objects, or NEOs (Near Earth Objects), but the enormity of space and the relatively small size of these objects make this work difficult. NASA currently tracks thousands of these objects, but the agency itself says that less than half of the estimated 25,000 near-Earth objects measuring 140 meters or more have been found.
The US space agency said it is not aware of any asteroids on a collision course with Earth for the next 100 years. According to the agency, the most dangerous is Bennu, which has a 1 in 1,800 chance of hitting Earth before 2290.
However, today’s surprise is a reminder that there are still unknown objects, and that we need to be prepared for them. At the end of September, NASA will launch the Dart mission, which foresees the intentional collision with an asteroid in a test to see if it is possible to change the direction of an object coming our way.