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NASA warns newly-spotted asteroid to pass by ‘closer than a weather satellite’

NASA is tracking an asteroid that will fly by Earth at a distance closer than a weather satellite.

The hurtling space rock, titled 2020 SW, was only just discovered last Friday.

It has since been listed on NASA's Near Earth Objects (NEOs) page and will pass our planet on Thursday at 11.18 ET time, which is 4.18pm UK time.

Although it measures up to 9.7metres, it is agonisingly close in space terms.

The rock will pass by at an estimated distance of 0.07 lunar distance away (LD) from Earth, which is around 17,000miles.

According to NASA, that is closer to our planet than the distance of 22,300 miles that its weather satellites are from us.

By contrast, the 2020 RA2 that is listed for a fly-by on Wednesday will hurtle past at 18.36 LD, which is around 4,384,431 miles away.

But NASA has not indicated that there is any danger of the rock hitting us, and it is forecast to pass by safely.

The Virtual Telescope Project said in a statement: "On September 24, 2020, the near-Earth Asteroid 2020 SW will have an extremely close, but safe, encounter with us, coming at about 27,000 km from the Earth, 7 percent of the average lunar distance.

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"The near-Earth asteroid 2020 SW, discovered by the MLS on September 18, 2020 and announced the following day by the Minor Planet Centre, has an estimated diameter in the range 4.3 – 9.7 meters (source: Nasa/JPL)."

This week, Daily Star Online revealed how NASA was tracking two asteroids that are set to collide with Earth's orbit within hours of each other.

The first asteroid to cross Earth's path is asteroid 2020 RO, which is estimated to be between 59m and 130m wide, on Friday.

The second, 2020 SM, will pass by on the same date just hours later.

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