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Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020
NASA’s asteroid defense network has warned of an impending close flyby of a space rock about the size of a house, which will zip past the Earth just inside the orbit of the moon on Wednesday.
Asteroid 2020 GH2 will pass Earth at 19,000 miles per hour and was only discovered on Saturday April 11. With a diameter of between 43 and 70 feet (13-70 meters) wide, GH2 could inflict significant damage were it to crash into our planet. Mercifully, however, it will miss Earth, flying by at a distance of 223,000 miles (359,000 kilometers). 
For context, the average lunar distance from Earth is 239,000 miles (385,000 km). For an asteroid to pose a clear and present danger to us, it would need to come within the range of geostationary weather satellites, which operate at a distance of about 22,000 miles (35,000 km) from Earth.
Dr Kelly Fast of NASA’s Asteroid Watch gave a novel demonstration –from her home– of the threat level involved in these close-approach asteroid events.

Ever-vigilant stargazers are awaiting yet another close flyby on April 29, when asteroid 1998 OR2, which boasts a diameter of between two and four kilometers, is expected to buzz Earth at a safe distance of 3.9 million miles (6.2 million km). 
At any given moment, NASA is tracking somewhere in the region of 20,000 near-Earth asteroids, but more are discovered all the time.