NASA tracked 1,400 asteroids in 2020 – one was big enough to ‘end civilisation’

NASA kept close tabs on 1,400 asteroids in 2020, including one big enough to end civilisation as we know it.

The US space agency's Centre for Near Earth Object studies space rocks with a trajectory that can bring them within 1.3 astronomical units of the sun or 45 million kilometres of the Earth's orbit.

They log the rocks, officially called Near Earth Objects, in a table of "close approach" asteroids, which are then are monitored by astrologists to make sure they skim Earth safely.

In 2020, the space administration logged more than 1,400 asteroids, with the biggest, named Asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2), which was estimated to be a staggering 1.8km to 4.1km in size.

This particular asteroid passed Earth safely on April 29 at a distance of around four millions miles away from our planet.

Despite there being no chance of collision, it was classed as potentially hazardous because if it hit Earth it would have had the capability to destroy the world as we know it.

The second biggest asteroid of 2020 was 136795 (1997 BQ), which passed on May 21, and was estimated to be between 670m and 1.5km.

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It preceded space rock 163373 (2002 PZ39), which passed the day after Valentine's Day on February 15.

For scale, Asteroid 163373 (2002 PZ39), was wider than two cruise ships combined, based on the biggest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas.

Asteroid 153201 (2000 WO107) was the fourth biggest asteroid to pass in 2020, and zipped past more recently on November 29.

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The giant rock was estimated to be between 370m and 820m, making it every bit as tall as the famous Dubai skyscraper, Burj Khalifa, which pierces the sky at a staggering 829.8m.

Sky-watchers sadly were not able to view the asteroid from Earth as it flew past at over 55,000 miles per hour.

Rocks bigger than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Big Ben, a football pitch and New York’s Empire State Building also zipped past Earth in 2020.

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The biggest asteroids tend to be the most searched-for, but NASA also logs the smaller space rocks that whizz past the planet.

As of December 21, the smallest asteroid to pass planet Earth was 2020 CW, which flew by on February 1.

It was estimated to be between 0.83m and 1.9m, making it around the size of a football.

The space rock was quickly followed by 2020 CD3, registered to be between 1.2m and 2.8m on February 13th and asteroid 2020 QY2.

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