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Earth Nearly Sideswiped by Asteroid

Credit: iStock

That’s one aggressive space rock.

Asteroids float randomly past our planet all the time, but very rarely do they actually come within striking distance. When they do, however, it can be a little scary, even if they don’t actually hit us.

Over the weekend, an asteroid codenamed C0PPEV1 skimmed the Earth’s atmosphere at a dangerously close proximity. The space rock missed us by about 3,852 miles (6,200km). If that doesn’t sound very close, then consider this: most telecom satellites orbit the Earth from 22,236 miles (35,786 km) away. This asteroid came closer to our planet than the things that provide our communications. Now that’s scary.

NASA usually has a scanner array and alarm system in place to detect dangerously close asteroids, but for some reason, C0PPEV1 slipped under the radar. Instead, it was amateur astronomer Tony Dunn who picked up the celestial object, tweeting about it 45 minutes before it passed over southern Africa at roughly the same distance between New York and London.

NASA estimates that the asteroid was between two and seven meters in diameter. Its small stature was probably the reason it was able to slip past the scanners. Due to its small size, even if C0PPEV1 had physically struck the Earth, it probably wouldn’t have caused any notable or lasting damage. Even so, C0PPEV1 is now the record holder for history’s closest asteroid near miss, which is a rather unnerving title. Hopefully, there won’t be another.