If you were paying close enough attention, you might have heard it whiz by. In what astronomers are calling a “surprise flyby”, a quarter-mile round asteroid (named 2018 GE3) buzzed the Earth three days ago, passing just 119,500 miles from the Earth’s atmosphere – about half the distance between Earth and the moon. The asteroid flew by Earth on Sunday, April 15, 2018, and was about six times the size of the meteor that exploded over Russia’s Ural Mountains in Chelyabinsk in February 2013, injuring more than 1,000 people.
Scientists say a meteor about 10 meters wide packs as much energy as a nuclear bomb. The asteroid that passed Earth on Sunday measured more than 300 feet across. Still, that’s nothing compared to the size of asteroids that make up the asteroid belt near Mars where the chunks of ice and rock measure up to 580 miles across.
At least three more asteroids are set to fly past Earth this week.