Asteroid Recently Found Seen Flying Closer Than Telecom Satellites
A car-sized asteroid that was spotted on the same day it approached Earth closely, approaching closer to the planet's surface than the ring of enormous geosynchronous orbiting communications satellites (22,236 miles or 35,786 kilometres above us).
The Catalina Sky Survey, based in Arizona, made the initial discovery of the space rock on Saturday, just as it was passing within 13,000 miles (21,000 kilometres) of Earth. The asteroid 2022 YO1 would likely cause little to no harm and burn up almost entirely in the atmosphere if it were to strike our planet directly.
But that could make one hell of a fireball. Remember that the bolide that exploded over Russia in 2013 was estimated to be about 40 metres across, or 10 times the size of 2022 YO1. It blew out thousands of windows but caused no other damage.
The fact that 2022 YO1 passed near Earth at the sixth-closest distance recorded by astronomers this year alone makes it particularly noteworthy. That is a sign that our surveys are becoming more adept at identifying more objects in the near-Earth space.
In fact, seven of the 50 closest objects ever recorded were observed in 2022, according to The Watchers. We might see more of 2022 YO1 in the future. Early projections of its orbital course in the inner solar system suggest that it will return to Earth in 2024 for another flyby.
While scientists continue to record and monitor an increasing number of asteroids and comets, humanity's few blind spots continue to be a major issue for planetary defence.
In the Southern Hemisphere, there aren't many observatories maintaining watch, and we also have trouble seeing some things coming from the sun's direction. This is the direction that the asteroid that erupted over Russia a decade ago came from and was absolutely unknown until it burst into the sky. NASA plans to launch the NEO Surveyor mission as early as June 2028 in an effort to close this significant gap.