SAN DIEGO – An asteroid made a record close pass by the Earth’s surface Friday morning, just nine hours after a meteor exploded over Russia.
“It just went straight through,” said Reuben H. Fleet Science Center instructor Jason Hammond.
Traveling at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the massive asteroid passed frighteningly close to the Earth just 17,200 miles above the surface.
“Ever since we started looking at space, it was the largest and closest event ever to come near Earth and it’s extremely fast,” said Hammond, adding it’s closer than our communication satellites.
While the asteroid may not have been a surprise, the meteor that hit Russia was.
“A piece of rock actually entered [Earth’s] atmosphere, caught on fire because of speed and friction and exploded over Russia,” said Hammond.
The force of the meteorite and the particles that landed on the ground blew out windows, accused a sonic boom and sent dozens of people to the hospital.
Hammond, like many scientists today, hypothesized about the damage a large asteroid could do.
“They’re very destructive in fact, the dinosaurs were probably wiped out initially by an asteroid hitting 65 million years ago,” he said.
Scientists predict this same asteroid will pass through our atmosphere again and maybe even a little closer in the year 2046.