Asteroid 2019 R91 came within 23,238 miles of Earth’s surface on Thursday but went undetected. Shocking, isn’t it? According to a report of Cnet, asteroid 2019 R91 was the third space rock to approach closest to our planet in the year 2019. According to the NASA, asteroid 2019 R91 was travelling at speeds of 57,937mph and it came closer than some satellites orbiting the Earth. Luckily, the celestial body failed to hit Earth. It is to be noted that an asteroid (space rock) can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Over 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. However, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. On the other hand, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once in every few million years.
Coming back to asteroid 2019 R91, NASA estimates the rock was between 23 and 56 feet in diameter. That makes it the same size as the rock that entered our atmosphere and exploded above Russia in 2013, causing plenty of damage. The space rock was undiscoverable because it came from daytime side.
2019 RP1 was undiscoverable prior to closest approach because it came from our daytime side, but it was picked up quickly when it entered our night sky,” express.co.uk quoted astronomer Tony Dunn as saying.
Earlier, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned the chances of an impact are more than people realise. He had said, "We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it's not about the movies. This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know, right now, to host life - and that is the planet Earth.”
Previously, SpaceX chief Elon Musk had tweeted saying, “Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense.”
It is worth mentioning here that SpaceX have won a contract to build components for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) which will attempt to redirect and deflect asteroids before they can hit Earth. However, NASA’s had said, “No known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years."
Whereas, Lindley Johnson of the Planetary Defence Coordination Office had said, “While no known asteroid larger than 140 meters in size has a significant chance of hitting Earth for the next 100 years, NASA and its partners are studying several different methodologies for deflecting a hazardous asteroid.”