A “city killer” asteroid flashed by Earth at 55,000 mph in July and was only noticed 24 hours before making its pass.
Citing recently obtained internal documents from NASA, Buzzfeed reported that a flying rock that could have been as big as one and a half football fields whizzed by 40,400 miles from this planet, which is the closest a meteor has come in the past century. To give some perspective, the moon is roughly 239,000 miles from Earth.
"This object slipped through a whole series of our capture nets,” Paul Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reportedly emailed colleagues on July 27, two days after the relative near-miss. “I wonder how many times this situation has happened without the asteroid being discovered at all.”
The space rock, called 2019 OK, could have destroyed a land mass up to 50 miles wide, NASA scientists believe. Buzzfeed reportedly obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request. The exchange between NASA officials said the “city killer” of a projectile "just missed the Earth."
NASA is awaiting government funding to update viewing equipment that would allow scientists to more quickly detect asteroids like 2019 OK, which was noticed by scientists in Brazil. Chodas told Buzzfeed NASA’s current systems did their jobs as Earth was never in 2019 OK’s path.
"The automated systems that calculate trajectories and the chance of impact … worked as designed,” he said.