Orbit of asteroid 2020 VT4 (NASA/JPL)
Astronomers are looking with better and better technology, and thus they’re finding smaller and smaller asteroids skimming close to Earth. Astronomers with the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) survey in Mauna Loa, Hawaii detected a new asteroid on November 14, 2020. After an analysis of the space rock’s orbit, they realized its closest approach had occurred one day earlier, on Friday November 13, 2020. This Friday the 13th asteroid was initially designed as A10sHcN. Now it has an official asteroid designation – 2020 VT4. Astronomers estimate its size as between 16 and 36 feet (5-11 meters). The space rock swept closest at just 4,197 miles (6,754 km) from Earth’s center (just 238 miles or 383 km over Earth’s surface)!
The asteriod was traveling at a speed of 30,014 miles per hour (48,303 km/h).
Closest approach was November 13 at 17:20 UT (12:20 pm ET) over the South Pacific Ocean.
It passed at about the same height as the orbit of the International Space Station (ISS), but there was no collision, of course. Was a collision ever likely? Space is so big – and the space station and asteroid are both so relatively ...