Asteroid to sweep close past Earth, closer than weather satellites, safely

Antonio Manaytay

Closer to Earth than weather satellites, Asteroid 2020 SW will sweep past the planet on Thursday, September 24.

The asteroid, discovered from Mt. Lemmon Observatory on September 18, will get brighter as it will come closest to Earth at about 28,254 kilometers (17,556 miles). This distance is a lot closer than the Moon and almost the same distance with geostationary satellites.

Meteorological satellites such as Diwata-2 of the Philippines orbit at a distance of 35,888 kilometers (22,300 miles) from Earth.

Its sheer closeness coupled with the smallness of size will enable the Earth to bend the asteroid’s trajectory, the EarthSky in an article said.

The satellite measures about 4.3 to 9.7 meters (14 to 32 feet). Although it will get brighter as it gets closer, to happen at around 11:18 UTC (7:18 a.m ET), the asteroid will not be visible by the naked eye.

Scientists said it orbits similarly with the Earth, orbiting the sun every 372 days.

Despite similarities of its orbit with the Earth, for the asteroid to hit the planet is nil, at least for the next 50 years.

The asteroid will pass safely over Australia or New Zealand.


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