Truck-size asteroid makes fourth-closest pass by Earth on record

A NASA illustration of an asteroid pass.

NASA

An asteroid roughly the size of a pickup truck came within 10,000 miles of our heads Friday morning and then continued on its way without incident.

Only three observed asteroids have come closer to our planet, according to NASA records that date all the way back to 1900

Asteroid 2018 UA was only 9,544 miles (15,360 kilometers) above the surface of the planet at its closest approach, which is much closer than the distance to the moon and even twice as close as most large man-made satellites in orbit. Earth’s gravity managed to warp the space rock’s orbit around the sun in the process.

Of the four closest asteroid flybys on record, 2018 UA is the second-largest at approximately 5 meters (16 feet).

Of course, those records don’t account for asteroids that actually impact our atmosphere and become meteors, like the bolide that exploded over Russia in 2013, or the small asteroid that may have made it all the way to the ground in Africa in June. 

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