220 times closer than the Moon: Asteroid almost hit the Earth

June 6, a small asteroid 2024 LH1 flew near the Earth. This was reported by the European Space Agency.

2024 LH1 was detected by the Catalina Sky Survey at 16:01 CEST on June 6. Just 8 hours later, it flew at a distance of only 1,727 km from the surface of our planet.  This is 220 times closer than the Moon and 21 times closer than geostationary satellites. The Earth encounter affected 2024 LH1 by reducing its orbital period. It is worth noting that only asteroid 2020 VT4 came closer to our planet, flying away from it at a distance of 365 km.

The 2024 LH1 visit did not pose a threat to Earth. According to astronomers’ estimates, the diameter of the asteroid is about 2.5 meters. So, if it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, it would collapse with the formation of a spectacular bolide like the one observed by the residents of Spain and Portugal in May 2024.

Nevertheless, the flyby of 2024 LH1 served as a reminder that a significant number of near-Earth asteroids still escape the attention of astronomers. It is particularly difficult to detect bodies approaching us from the Sun. Some of them are large enough to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and cause significant damage in the event of a fall in a populated area.

NASA and ESA are aware of this problem and are working on telescope projects designed to track potentially dangerous asteroids. They are scheduled to launch later this decade or early next decade.