CBS Local — An asteroid came alarmingly close to striking the Earth on Sunday, just hours after the large space rock was spotted flying through the solar system.
According to EarthSky.org, the 150-foot asteroid wasn’t located until Saturday by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. The object, labeled 2018 GE3, passed within 119,500 miles of the Earth around 2:41 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday morning. While it doesn’t sound like a short distance, 2018 GE3 was twice as close to the Earth as the moon is, which has an average orbit of 238,900 miles away.
The “medium-sized” space object is reportedly over three times the size of a meteor that entered the atmosphere over Russia in 2013 and injured more than 1,000 people. That incident also reportedly damaged thousands of buildings in the area which had their windows blown out by the meteor’s shock wave.
NASA, which funds the Catalina Sky Survey, noted that 2018 GE3 passed even closer to the moon about four hours after its close call with Earth. The surprise encounter is reportedly the closest this particular rock has ever come to hitting Earth since 1930.
Will 2018 GE3 collide with the Earth one day?
NASA isn’t sure and labeled the rock’s orbit around the solar system “highly uncertain.” 2018 GE3 will make its next pass by the planet in about two and a half years.