Well this is terrifying. There’s tons of stuff flying through space all the time that has the potential to strike Earth, but we usually know about anything significant well before it gets near us. Usually, but not always.
An asteroid dubbed 2017 OO1 was detected at the ATLAS-MLO telescope in Mauna Loa, Hawaii on July 23, which judging by its trajectory was actually around three days after it came closest to hitting Earth. The near-miss space rock is estimated to be between 82 and 256 feet across and is traveling at 11,369 miles per hour, meaning you’d think someone would have spotted it sooner. On July 20, when it was at its closest to Earth, the asteroid came within about 80,000 miles of our planet — that’s just one-third the distance to the moon.
The reason for its late detection is that 2017 OO1 appears to be a non-reflective asteroid, meaning it’s a lot harder for observers to see. And while it’s scary that this thing could have struck Earth without scientists even having an inkling that it was coming, the bright side is that it’s not big enough to be too devastating. Don’t get me wrong, it could still have potentially caused lots of damage and some deaths, but we’re not talking about an apocalyptic event here.
So have fun going about the rest of your day knowing that an asteroid could have landed on your house last week with no warning! Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?