Earth was nearly hit by what was dubbed as a "city-killer" asteroid named 2019 OK last Wednesday, stunning scientists who barely noticed the threat of the space rock.
The Washington Post, citing NASA data, on Friday reported that Asteroid 2019 OK, estimated to be 57 to 130 meters wide, passed about 73,000 kilometers from earth, roughly 1/5 the distance to the moon.
The asteroid was not on the radar of scientists and seemingly appeared from "out of nowhere."
"Nothing this size is easy to detect . . . You're really relying on reflected sunlight, and even at closest approach it was barely visible with a pair of binoculars," Alan Duffy, lead scientist at the Royal Institution of Australia, told The Washington Post.
Forecasts had already predicted that a couple of asteroids would be passing relatively close to Earth this week, but nobody anticipated it would be as close as Asteroid 2019 OK did.
The last-minute detection is yet another sign of how much remains unknown about space and a sobering reminder of the very real threat asteroids can pose, Duffy added.
—Report from The Washington Post