The football field-size asteroid darted past us at half the lunar moon distance on Sunday, hours after it was first spotted.
The asteroid, dubbed 2018 GE3, was spotted less than a day before its close encounter with our planet, shows the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union. The asteroids which are present in this belt do not pose any threat to the Earth.
A medium-sized asteroid buzzed by Earth just hours after being detected this weekend. Austrian amateur astronomer Michael Jäger recorded the object as it passed through the southern constellations Serprens. If GE3 had entered Earth's atmosphere it could have caused similar, if not more severe, damage.
But an asteroid need not be in the Tunguska range to do damage: in 2013, the 65-foot-wide Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russian Federation, injuring 1,200 people and smashing thousands of windows.
The Chelyabinsk asteroid was undetected before it entered the atmosphere.
"It doesn't take a very large object". Reports suggest that the the asteroid was as close to planet Earth as half the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. "A 10-meter size object already packs the same energy as a nuclear bomb", Andrew Cheng, who led a 2000-2001 mission for NASA to orbit and land on an asteroid, told Fox News at the time.
The giant asteroid, estimated to be between 47 and 100 metres in width, was flew by Earth at a speed of 106,000 kilometres per hour. The asteroid, designated 2018 GE3, made its closest approach to Earth at around 2.41 a.m. EDT on Sunday, according to a Space.com report.
"However, some of an asteroid this size might have gotten through to Earth's surface, and an asteroid this big is capable of causing some regional damage, depending on various factors such as composition, speed, entry angle, and location of impact", the space website explains.
Wikipedia and other sources are now reporting that this is the largest asteroid to ever pass this close to Earth.
That's significantly smaller than the 2018 GE3 asteroid.