‘This one did sneak up on us’: Internal NASA emails reveal how it almost ‘missed’ a football-field-sized asteroid so big it could have destroyed a CITY when it whizzed past Earth in July
- Scientists announced the asteroid discovery just hours before its close approach
- Asteroid 2019 OK measure 426 feet by 187ft (130m x 57m) came within 70,000 km of Earth
- At its closest approach in July, it was closer to Earth than the moon
- Experts say impact from object of this size would be enough to ‘devastate a city’
A ‘city-killer’ asteroid which had a ‘close pass’ with Earth in July was not picked up by NASA until the agency was told about it just hours before it swept past.
Internal emails have revealed the US space agency was caught by surprise by the asteroid named ‘2019 OK’.
It passed about 40,400 miles away from Earth – only 16 per cent of the way to the moon – and was the largest rock to have done so in almost 100 years.
Emails obtained by Buzzfeed News through Freedom of Information revealed one NASA staffer telling colleagues the asteroid had ‘slipped through the net’.
Travelling at 55,000mph and measuring 426 feet by 187ft (130m x 57m), NASA only realised 2019 OK was coming 24 hours before it passed.
Experts say that had it hit, it would have devastated an entire city like London with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima.
The asteroid was given its name based on the date it was spotted. The year 2019 forms the first half of the name and O is a term given to the second half of July. K denotes it was the 10th discovery in the O period, NASA say.
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