Giant asteroid 2018 GE3 makes surprise fly-by past Earth

WASHINGTON: A giant asteroid gave Earth a surprise close shave this week, flying by at a distance of 1,92,000 kilometres, just a day after astronomers discovered the object, scientists say.

NASA estimated that the asteroid measures 48 to 110 meters wide - 3.6 times the size of the one that levelled 2,000 square kilometres of Siberian forest when it exploded over Tunguska in 1908.

Designated 2018 GE3, made its closest approach to Earth at around 0641 GMT on April 15 (12:11 a.m., April 16 in Indian Standard Time) whizzing by at about half the average distance between Earth and the moon, according to NASA's Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

The asteroid is three to six times as big as one that broke up over Russia in 2013, injuring over 1,200 people and damaging thousands of buildings up to 93 km away from the impact site, ‘Space.com' reported.

The asteroid 2018 GE3 was first spotted on April 14 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA programme based at the University of Arizona in the U.S.

This first sighting occurred just 21 hours before the asteroid's closest approach to Earth.

 

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PTI