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Mile-Wide Asteroid Passes Within 3.9 Million Miles Of Earth

When we already have enough crises to deal with, the last thing that anybody wants to hear is that a bigger one is on the horizon. It's why we lowkey hate that friend who says "it could be worse" when something terrible happens because part of us feels like it'll make that worse thing come true.

So when we hear that a massive asteroid apparently picked now of all times to approach Earth, it's understandable to have a pretty anguished knee-jerk reaction about it.

However, it doesn't look like we'll have any reason to add space debris to our list of problems today. And considering how big the sucker that just passed by is, that's something we can be thankful for.

Researchers in Australia and Puerto Rico have tracked an asteroid that passed within 3.9 million miles of earth.

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As The Guardian reported, this distance is about 16 times larger than the distance between the earth and the moon.

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The asteroid is called (52768) 1998 OR2 and it's about 1.2 miles wide and trucks along at about 19,000 miles per hour.

Twitter | @AreciboRadar, NASA, NSF

It may not have the catchiest name in the world, but both its size and its relative proximity to Earth gave scientists reason to classify it as a potentially hazardous object, or PHO.

As astrophysicist Dr. Brad Tucker of the Australian National University told The Guardian, an asteroid is considered a PHO if it's bigger than 500 feet in width and comes within 5 million miles of our planet.

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And judging by the fact that we don't have any new massive craters in our planet, it's clear that this asteroid passed by harmlessly when it reached its closet point at 5:56 am EST on April 29.

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Dr. Tucker also said, "While it is big, it is still smaller than the asteroid that impacted the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs."

That's not necessarily so comforting, but the fact that it didn't defy expectations of avoiding us certainly is.

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A team at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico started tracking the asteroid on April 13 and continue to do so after it has passed.

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It's not expected to pass by Earth again for another 49 years, but researchers at the observatory have good reason to keep tabs on it.

As Flaviane Venditti, one of the scientists involved said, "In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely."

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Fortunately, there are no known PHOs, including this one, that are likely to threaten Earth anytime soon.

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But the better that teams like the one in Puerto Rico can track asteroids and other fast-moving space objects, the better prepared they'll be if one gets too close for comfort.

h/t: The Guardian

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