A Massive Asteroid Got Extremely Close To Earth And Scientists Didn't Know Until It Was Only Days Away

Lynne Versluys

The 427-foot-wide asteroid got within 45,000 miles of Earth last week.

Too Close For Comfort

With all of the high tech at NASA's disposal, you would think that they would have noticed a 427-foot-wide asteroid barreling towards Earth, but sometimes things slip past their watch. On Friday, the massive asteroid, now named 2019 OK, got within 45,000 miles of Earth as it passed.

While that might seem like an astronomical number, that's only 20% of the distance between the Earth and the moon, so in universal terms, that qualifies as a pretty narrow miss.

A "City-Killer" Asteroid

2019 OK is classified as a "city killer" asteroid, which can hit Earth with the force of multiple nuclear bombs and could destroy entire cities. While NASA and other agencies have technology to track objects like this, there isn't enough funding to observe every single one. NASA manages to track less than one third of the major asteroids.

How Did They Miss This?

Research teams in Brazil and the US only noticed 2019 OK about a week before it passed, long after the time needed to do anything to deflect or destroy it if Earth was in its path.

Australian astronomer Alan Duffy encouraged the world's governments to take threats like this serious and boost astronomer's funding in order to avoid a catastrophic event.

"We don't have to go the way of the dinosaurs. We actually have the technology to find and deflect certainly these smaller asteroids if we commit to it now."

Of Course Twitter Has Jokes

Because this is 2019 and the world seems to be on fire anyway, Twitter of course had jokes about the asteroid. Why grapple with the seemingly random void of space when you can meme it online instead?