An Amateur Astronomer From Brazil Has Discovered A Huge Near-Earth Asteroid
Brazilian Amateur astronomer Leonardo Amaral discovered a large asteroid 2020 QU6 with a diameter of about 700 meters. It came close to Earth on Thursday and flew at a distance of 40 million kilometers from its surface, the Planetary Society writes.
"This event was another reminder that we have not discovered all the major near-earth asteroids. To fully protect the Earth from space threats, we must continue to support ground-based astronomy and invest in space projects like the NEOSM telescope," commented Casey Dreyer, lead adviser on space policy at the Planetary Society.
Asteroid 2020 QU6, which Leonardo Amaral discovered at the end of August this year, has become one of the largest near-earth asteroids in recent years. At the same time, it was not potentially dangerous for humanity and life on the Earth, since in the foreseeable future it will not approach it at a dangerous distance.
It makes a revolution around the Sun in about 3.2 years, moving away from it twice as far as the Earth's orbit is located. 2020 QU6 crosses the orbit of Mars and reaches the inner boundary of the main asteroid belt. At the maximum point of approach to the Sun, the asteroid almost reaches The Earth's orbit, approaching the Sun by 1.1 astronomical units (the average distance between the Sun and our planet).
Over the past few decades, scientists around the world have been actively monitoring near-earth asteroids and conducting a kind of cosmic "census" among them, trying to understand how dangerous they are for humanity. Now astronomers know about 22 thousand asteroids that periodically approach the Earth at a relatively short distance.
Almost two thousand of them are included in the PHA (Potentially hazardous asteroids) catalog-a list of small celestial bodies that are potentially dangerous to life on the Earth. To be included in this list, an asteroid must approach our planet at a distance of no more than 8 million km, and also be large enough not to collapse when passing through the atmosphere and cause a regional catastrophe.