The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has determined with new analysis by its Sentry impact monitoring system that a small asteroid whose uncertain position was of concern will pass by Earth at a very safe distance in September. The new analysis of the asteroid, called 2006 QV89, was made possible by key telescopic observations made in early July, and then again the weekend of August 10-11, by Dr. Dave Tholen of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy.
On the evening of Thursday, July 24, a football-field-sized asteroid passed close to the Earth with very little warning. The asteroid, designated 2019 OK, approached Earth at about 40,400 miles (65,000 kilometers) above the surface, one fifth the distance to the Moon. Other known asteroids have passed by closer, and a few very small asteroids have even impacted our atmosphere just after discovery, but none have been as large: 2019 OK is estimated to be 195-425 feet (60-130 meters) in size.
When a lightning detector on a NOAA weather satellite detected something that wasn't lightning last Saturday, a scientist at the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, did some detective work.
On April 13, 2029, a speck of light will streak across the sky, getting brighter and faster. At one point it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper. But it won't be a satellite or an airplane - it will be a 1,100-foot-wide (340-meter-wide) near-Earth asteroid called 99942 Apophis that will cruise harmlessly by Earth, about 19,000 miles (31,000 kilometers) above the surface. That's within the distance that some of our spacecraft that orbit Earth.
While headlines routinely report on "close shaves" and "near-misses" when near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids or comets pass relatively close to Earth, the real work of preparing for the possibility of a NEO impact with Earth goes on mostly out of the public eye.