News / Science & Technology

Giant Asteroid Cruises by Earth

Asteroid 1998 QE2 got no closer than about 3.6 million miles at time of its closest approach May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern). (Photo: NASA/JL-Caltech)
Asteroid 1998 QE2 got no closer than about 3.6 million miles at time of its closest approach May 31 at 1:59 p.m. Pacific (4:59 p.m. Eastern). (Photo: NASA/JL-Caltech)
Suzanne Presto
— A 2.7 kilometer-wide asteroid has sailed past our planet.

The 1998 QE2 asteroid posed no real threat as it passed about 3 million kilometers from Earth - about 15 times the distance from Earth to the moon.

NASA scientists said the asteroid is not named for anything on Earth. Asteroid names include the year the space rock was detected, along with an alphanumeric code indicating which month and when in the month it was discovered.

The flyby helps raise awareness of the millions of space rocks that are whizzing near our planet.

NASA estimates it has catalogued 95 percent of near-Earth asteroids that are larger than one kilometer. It says it has found nothing this size that poses a threat to our planet in the foreseeable future.  

In February of this year, a small meteor unexpectedly exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and produced a shockwave that shattered thousands of windows and injured more than 1,000 people.

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