Using the ATLAS Telescope in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, scientists detected a space rock on June 7 , 2020 and, to their surprise, when analyzing their orbit, they realized that two days before, that is, June 5, the asteroid had its closest approach to Earth. Eddie Irizarry of the Caribbean Astronomical Society (SAC) said: “Occasionally we hear news about asteroids passing close to Earth, but in reality many of them pass at enormous distances, sometimes far beyond the orbit of the Moon. Space rocks passing even closer than the Earth-Moon distance, especially if they are of considerable size, they certainly catch the attention of astronomers. An approximate 400 feet (122 meters) in diameter is the asteroid which passed near Earth on June 5, and which was named as the 2020 LD asteroid. “This year, it’s the largest asteroid to pass closer than the distance to the Moon, and one of the largest to pass that close without being detected before,” Irizarry said.
The space rock passed at a distance equivalent to 80 percent the Earth-Moon distance, and was moving through space at the impressive speed of 60,826 miles per hour (97,890 km / h), relative to Earth. “For some, perhaps a 400-foot (122-meter) asteroid is huge, but there are even space rocks several kilometers in diameter. In fact, the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 to 66 million years ago, measured between 11 to 15 kilometers, “said the SAC. For comparison, the educational entity indicated that the asteroid that hit 49,000 to 50,000 years ago near Flagstaff, Arizona, was about 150 feet (46 meters) in diameter, and caused a crater 1.2 km in diameter and 600 feet deep.
While the impressive meteorite sighted in February 2013 over Chelyabinsk in Russia was caused by the entry into the atmosphere of a space rock only 17 meters (55 feet) in diameter. “Although this particular asteroid (2020 LD) would not happen this closely again in at least the next 50 years, these events and close steps highlight the importance of continuing to study asteroids, as is done from the Arecibo Observatory”, SAC concluded.