NASA reports a small near-Earth asteroid (or NEA), the size of a "small school bus," will buzz Earth Thursday (Sept. 24) at a distance closer than the moon and most geostationary weather satellites.
2020 SW, discovered by @Catalina_sky, is about 15 to 30 ft. wide and will pass by Earth Thurs., Sept. 24, at a distance of about 13,000 miles (22,000 km). Tiny asteroids like 2020 SW approach Earth this closely several times every year and aren't a threat: https://t.co/xKWtzxLI7Q pic.twitter.com/FpkY77zibw— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) September 23, 2020
The asteroid, named 2020 SW, was discovered last Thursday (Sept. 18) by NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. The size of the asteroid is an estimated 15 feet by 30 feet wide, making it roughly the size of a "small school bus," said NASA.
The space agency points out 2020 SW is "not on an impact trajectory with Earth, if it were, the space rock would almost certainly break up high in the atmosphere, becoming a bright meteor known as a fireball."
Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said: "There are a large number of tiny asteroids like this one, and several of them approach our planet as close as this several times every year.
"In fact, asteroids of this size impact our atmosphere at an average rate of about once every year or two," said Chodas.
CNEOS expects the asteroid to zoom past Earth at a distance of about 13,000 miles over the Southeastern Pacific Ocean around 0712 ET on Thursday.
The passing of 2020 SW will be live-streamed via the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome.
As the asteroid passes, it will continue its trajectory towards the sun and will not pass Earth again until 2041.