Massive Asteroid Skimmed Past Earth for the First and Probably Last Time

A massive asteroid believed to be so gigantic that it could allegedly overshadow the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, was spotted passing by Earth on January 19th. The formidable space object got quite close to our planet, at about 2.5 million miles away. Simply put, the distance is 10.4 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

NASA stated that the asteroid has harmlessly completed its trajectory and is now underway to the Sun. The space rock’s journey through this part of the Solar System was short, but, according to the space agency, the asteroid is not going to return anytime soon.

The rock is known as asteroid 2020 AQ1, and as per a report issued by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the formidable asteroid was identified just about two weeks ago and has been kept under continual monitoring ever since.

The Only Close Proximity to Earth

The asteroid is an Apollo-type space rock, meaning that it has an orbital trajectory that allows it to approach and cross our planet’s orbit. The massive space rock rotates around the Sun every 2.2 years. While its trajectory around the Sun has made the asteroid step into the inner Solar System in the past, the object has recently passed by Venus, leaving the planet on January 11th, 2018. The asteroid 2020 AQ1 has never been close to Earth before, and this flyby had been the rock’s first and only close meeting with our planet.

The massive space rock is believed to be at least 328 feet (1 kilometer) wide and can have up to 754.5 feet (229 meters) in diameter, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Considering the close encounter it had with Earth, asteroid 2020 AQ1 has been labeled as Near-Earth Object (NEO). As per NASA, NEOs are space objects like comets and asteroids that rotate somewhere around 91 million (146 million) to 121 million miles (194 kilometers) from the Sun. This means that, while traveling around the natural satellite, NEOs can go out far, approximately 30 million miles (48 kilometers) of Earth’s orbit and really close to the planet.

This was the case last month, when a much smaller 55-foot (16 meters) Apollo asteroid came extremely close to Earth’s surface, flying past our planet at just 409,200 (658,543 kilometers) away, which is 1.7 times the distance to the Moon.

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