Asteroid Size of a Truck Gave Earth, Satellites a Close Shave in Recent Fly-fly

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A small piece of space rock came very close to Earth's orbit but passed on harmlessly at the end. According to Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, the rock which was reported to be of the size of a car or truck came within 19, 833 km of the Earth's surface at its closest point of approach on Monday morning (Pacific time). According to a report in, the rock named Asteroid 2021GW4 was well inside the ring where many artificial satellites orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 35,786 Kms.

While the space at these altitudes is generally empty, McDowell in his assessment suggested that the nearest functioning satellite to the asteroid's path was a US military GPS one that was about 2000 km away from the asteroid.

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According to NASA, the diameter of the Asteroid 2021 GW4 was between 11 and25 foot and it was too small to survive. These small asteroids are more likely to entirely burn up when they come in contact with the Earth's atmosphere during their fall. While usually such small asteroids are spotted just hours before they come to their closest pass, 2021 GW4 was spotted on April 8 by the Mt. Lemmon Survey in Arizona.

Earlier in March, Asteroid 2001 FO32 which was reported to be the biggest asteroid of the year passed the Earth at a blazing speed of 123, 876 km per hour at its close point of approach to Earth. The speed of 2001 FO32 was more than any average asteroid and its diameter was reported to be somewhere between 0.8 km and 1.7 km.

The unusual speed of this asteroid created doubt and to reassure people, the NASA Asteroid Watch Twitter account delivered a message saying 2001 FO32 would "safely zip past Earth at a distance of 1.3 million miles — five times further away than the moon — and poses no risk of hitting Earth."

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The asteroid safely passed on March 21, 2021.

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