A Brazilian amateur astronomer discovered the large “potentially dangerous” asteroid that passed safely from Earth this week on Thursday (September 10).
The asteroid, called 2020 QU6, measures approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) wide, or large enough to cause global catastrophe if it hits Earth. However, it posed no risk to our planet as it traveled beyond the planet to a distance of over 20 million miles (40 million kilometers), which is more than 100 times the distance between Earth and the moon, according to one. Planetary Society statement.
“In the news, you hear more and more frequently on asteroid discoveries mainly because we are getting better at finding and tracking asteroids near Earth, “said Bruce Betts, chief scientist at The Planetary Society,” There are suddenly no more asteroids, we’re just getting better at seeing them. “
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The 2020 asteroid QU6 was discovered on August 27 by amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral at the Campo dos Amarais observatory near Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 2019, Amaral received a $ 8,500 grant from the Planetary Society to purchase better telescope equipment that would allow him to find, track and characterize near-Earth objects (NEOs) more effectively.
Amaral’s location in the Southern Hemisphere also offers a unique vantage point for finding such a large asteroid, as many professional asteroid-hunting sky reliefs are located in the Northern Hemisphere, according to the statement.
While NASA and other major agencies track asteroids, the discovery of asteroid 2020 QU6 so close to its approach to Earth serves as a reminder of the need to support terrestrial astronomers like Amaral. Casey Dreier, chief advocate and senior advisor for space policy for The Planetary Society, also noted the importance of investing in new space capabilities, such as NASA’s NEO surveillance mission, or NEOSM, which is a space telescope designed to find and trace nearby threats -Objects of the Earth.
“This discovery reminds us that even though we found larger NEOs we didn’t find them all,” Dreier said in the statement.
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