Asteroid passes inside Earth’s satellite ring, ’20 times closer than moon’

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A small asteroid passed so close to the Earth on Thursday, at one, point, it was 20 times closer than the moon, NASA said.

The space rock was detected by astronomers at the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona just six hours before its closest approach to Earth.

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The space rock, named 2017 EA, measured about 10 feet across and streaked safely through Earth's atmosphere without incident, making its closest approach at 6:04 am Pacific Standard Time at an altitude of 9,000 miles above the Pacific Ocean, the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said on its website.

Ground-based telescopes can no longer see the asteroid, but astronomers can now accurately track 2017 EA. It won’t approach Earth for at least a hundred years, according to CNEOS.