An amateur astronomer from Brazil discovered an asteroid a kilometer in diameter. It flew past the Earth at a great distance but could be “potentially dangerous” to the planet when changing its route.
An amateur astronomer from Brazil discovered a large, “potentially dangerous” asteroid that flew past Earth on September 10.
Asteroid 2020 QU6 is about 1000 meters wide – as noted by the researchers, it is large enough to cause a “global catastrophe” if it hits the Earth. However, according to the statement of the Planetary Society, he does not pose any danger to our planet, since he passed it at a distance of more than 40 million km, which is more than 100 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
“In the news, we hear more and more about the discovery of asteroids, primarily because we are getting better at finding and tracking near-Earth asteroids,” said Planetary Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts. “Asteroids don’t appear suddenly, some are just too far away and we can’t see them.”
Asteroid 2020 QU6 was discovered by amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral at the Campo dos Amarais observatory near Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 2019, Amaral received a $8,500 grant from the Planetary Society to purchase improved telescopic equipment that will allow him to more efficiently find, track, and characterize near-Earth objects.
The location of Amaral in the Southern Hemisphere is also a unique vantage point for finding such a large asteroid, as there are many professional astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere.
Casey Dreyer, Senior Space Policy Advisor for the Planetary Society, also noted the importance of investing in new devices such as NASA’s Hazardous Observation Mission, or NEOSM, a space telescope designed to detect and track Earth-threatening objects.