Asteroid flyby
Using one of the telescopes of the project "Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System" (ATLAS), in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, astronomers detected an extremely close passage of an asteroid yesterday, Saturday, November 14, and when analyzing its orbit, they They noticed that the space rock had its closest approach the day before, that is, on Friday, the 13th.

The asteroid has been dubbed "2020 VT4," reported the International Astronomical Union.

"It is estimated that this space rock passed only 238 miles above the Pacific Ocean, making it the asteroid to pass closest to Earth without disintegrating in our atmosphere," said Eddie Iriarry of the Astronomical Society of the Caribbean (SAC).

The educational entity clarified that it was a relatively small asteroid, between 16 to 36 feet (5 to 11 meters) in diameter.

Irizarry explained that the "2020 VT4" even passed through the so-called Thermosphere, a layer of the atmosphere between 50 to 440 miles above the earth's surface. "In fact, when passing at only 238 miles, the asteroid was not far from reaching the area from 70 to 50 miles high in which the greatest friction occurs, that is, the area where these rocks disintegrate and go into shape. meteor, "he said.

He added that if this asteroid had penetrated the atmosphere, which did not occur, it would have caused the sighting of a meteor so brightly as to be visible in broad daylight, like the one seen in Puerto Rico in January 2020. .

The SAC director stressed that another curious fact about the very close passage of the 2020 VT4 asteroid is that its distance of only 238 miles is practically the same height at which the International Space Station orbits, which is currently manned by three people, while four other astronauts would leave for this one tonight.

Although it would be extremely rare for an asteroid like this, averaging 26 feet in size, to hit the space lab, it is not impossible. Fortunately there is so much room or margin for error, that it would be an incredible coincidence if something like this happened. The SAC indicated that while the asteroid passed over the southern Pacific Ocean, the Space Station was orbiting over Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

The closest approach to "2020 VT4" occurred on Friday, November 13, at about 1:20 pm Puerto Rico time.

The space rock was traveling through space at a speed of 30,014 miles per hour.

The SAC clarified that had it penetrated the atmosphere, much of the rock would have disintegrated. However, the passage was so close that the gravitational force of the Earth altered the trajectory of the asteroid, which is now estimated to complete one revolution of the Sun every 10 months in its new orbit.

Translated by google.