Giant Asteroid Misses Earth

Asteroid 1998 QE2 misses the Earth as it passes through space.
Asteroid 1998 QE2 misses the Earth as it passes through space.

The giant asteroid 1998 QE2 has missed planet Earth on its latest trip past us, although it did manage to alert quite a number of people throughout the world on its way past, including members of the White House.

Never getting closer than 3.6 million miles away from us, or roughly 15 times the distance to the Moon, or 36 times as far as my car has driven, the giant asteroid large enough to end all civilization soared past harmlessly this evening. Having never posed any danger to us, despite the well-known damage it would cause should it ever collide with us, is that it was observable.

This asteroid was close enough to us that it could be seen from the telescope sitting in your kids bedroom, or perhaps your attic is more likely. People could observe a phenomenon of space, the rare massive asteroid, typically only seen in a science fiction film. People around the world were able to visualize what scientists typically only could, a magical experience for anyone who saw it.

For those out there who missed the chance to observe this giant asteroid, you will get a chance to see it from your house on planet Earth in the relatively near future. The next scheduled pass of QE2 is on July 12, of 2028. If you weren’t able to see it this time, make sure to find a telescope so you don’t miss it again. You have 15 years to buy a telescope, plenty of time to prepare for the next sighting, a pass which also will pose no danger.

A giant asteroid, QE2 has a diameter of 1.7 miles, making it approximately ten times the length of  a cruise ship, or slightly over half the distance covered in a 5k charity walk. That isn’t the only massive part of the giant asteroid that missed Earth today, this week researchers noticed that is possessed a moon. This moon is also estimated to be an impressive 2000 feet wide.

To put the size of this giant asteroid in perspective as well as our near miss with the end of humanity, it is often considered by scientists that any asteroid with a diameter larger than 0.6 miles colliding with the Earth would end our existence. The asteroid thought to end the dinosaurs is estimated to have been close to six miles wide. Although only a third the size, this one would have a devastating impact on a species such as ours that is easily smaller than a third the size of a dinosaur.

The White House used this passing of QE2 as an opportunity to teach American citizens about the potential that is still unexplored in the world, and the value of scientific discovery. Whitehouse spokesman Josh Earnest even had the opportunity to give a statement he thought only was given in movies, stating that “Scientists have concluded that the asteroid poses no threat to planet Earth,” in the White House news briefing Friday.

Scientists documented this orbit closely in an attempt to learn more about how exactly giant asteroids go about their orbit, and predicting whether or not they will safely miss our beloved Mother Earth on the next pass through. It was through such research and monitoring that the asteroids moon was discovered. The orbit itself was videotaped and placed on online, so if you missed the passing and wanted to see what you missed, its only a click away.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille

The Guardian Express

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