Interesting
31.4k readers

Every Single Recorded Close Call Earth Has Had With An Asteroid

Updated April 19, 2018 31.4k views47 items

List RulesOnly asteroids that have passed within one lunar distance (LD) of Earth without impacting.

With all the problems we're dealing with on Earth, it's easy to forget the constant threats floating around in the darkness of space. Just like the dinosaurs, humanity could be instantly wiped out by an impact from a flying chunk of space rock traveling roughly 25 km per second. A big enough asteroid could have apocalyptic repercussions, which is why NASA constantly monitors the skies for potential threats.

How close do asteroids get to Earth, exactly? Too close for comfort, according to data from NASA. The amount of close calls experienced in the last century alone is enough to keep most people up at night. At least 52 asteroids larger than a meter in size have passed within one lunar distance (LD) of Earth since 1910, and prediction models say there are plenty more to come.

The closest some of these asteroids have come to hitting the planet may surprise you. An LD is an astronomical unit of measurement based on the distance from the center of the Earth to the center of the Moon, which is pretty darn close when it comes to space travel. It's important to keep a list of asteroid passes, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves of how fragile we are. Luckily, only an asteroid that measures larger than 25 meters has a chance of making it through the atmosphere without burning up. This is a comprehensive list of all the times asteroids almost hit Earth – in case you were hoping to develop a phobia of meteors.

Photo:
  • 2018 GE3 - 192,316 km

    Date: April 15, 2018
    Size: 46 - 100 m
    Damage In The Event Of Impact: Unclear 

    As the asteroid was not large enough to quality as "potentially hazardous" according to NASA, no one saw the asteroid coming ahead of time until it had a close call with Earth in the early morning hours of a Sunday in April. Had the asteroid hit earth, it could have caused major regional or local effects. Given the asteroid was roughly the size of a football field, it also could have caused major damage had it landed on a city. 

  • 2011 CQ1 - 11,900 km

    Date: February 4, 2011
    Size: 1 meter
    Damage In The Event Of Impact: None

    In February 2011, a relatively small asteroid made big news when it whizzed by the Earth. It is the closest an asteroid has ever been to the planet without making landfall. It was a bit of a surprise for scientists, who weren't even aware of its existence until it was spotted just 14 hours before it passed by.

  • 2008 TS26 - 12,600 km

    Date: October 9, 2008
    Size: 0.5-1.6 meters
    Damage In The Event Of Impact: None

  • 2004 FU162 - 12,900 km

    Date: March 31, 2004
    Size: 4–12 meters
    Damage In The Event Of Impact: None

    In 2004, an asteroid known as 2004 FU162 zipped by; it was the closest object to pass by the Earth at that time. Scientists were amazed by the asteroid, which made an unprecedented 20 degree course change due to the effects of Earth's gravitational field.