An asteroid about the size of a car flew within 1,830 miles of the Earth on Sunday – but it was later revealed that no one knew about it until it had passed.
It was the closest-ever recorded according to asteroid trackers and researchers at the Sormano Astronomical Observatory in Italy.
Due to its relatively small size it is unlikely to have presented a danger to people or caused significant damage to Earth if it had entered the atmosphere.
Paul Chodas, the director of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies told Business Insider: “The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the Sun.
“We didn’t see it coming.”
Instead, the space rock was only detected about six hours after it had already passed the Earth.
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Dr Chodas said it was a record-breaking event and added: “Yesterday’s close approach is the closest on record, if you discount a few known asteroids that have actually impacted our planet.”
NASA only knows about a fraction of so-called Near-Earth Objects like the asteroid over the weekend.
Many do not manage to cross the telescope’s line of sight and numerous potentially dangerous asteroids have managed to sneak up on scientists in recent years.
There are fears should a larger asteroid slip through that it could be dangerous for the planet.
This recent near-Earth asteroid had been called ZTF0DxQ, but it is formally known as 2020QG.
Tony Dunn, the creator of the website orbit simulator.com said: “Newly-discovered asteroid ZTF0DxQ passed less than 1/4 Earth diameter yesterday, making it the closest-known flyby that didn’t hit our planet.”
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Meanwhile, Asteroid 2011 ES4 is predicted to skim past our planet on September 1.
The rocky visitor, measuring between 22m and 49m in diameter, will fly 0.00048 astronomical units away (44,618 miles) from Earth, at a speed of 18,253 miles per hour.
The Moon is 238,855 miles from Earth so 2011 ES4 will skim by considerably closer than our lunar neighbour.
It's considered a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid" (PHA) based on certain NASA criteria.
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