Space rocks flying without a real purpose through space could one day wreak havoc on Earth. But that’s hardly something you need to worried about. Some of these asteroids are automatically labeled as “potentially hazardous” if they pass us by within a certain distance… but that distance can be millions of miles away from Earth, so they often don’t really pose a threat.
Others are so small that you might only spot them hours before they cruise past Earth. Those rocks aren’t exactly hazardous, although they could do some damage should they hit one of the many satellites orbiting our planet.
The newest asteroid to fly by Earth is Asteroid 2018 BD, which passed our planet at a distance of approximately 22,000 miles at 7:43 AM PST on Thursday. That was just seven hours after the asteroid was discovered by astronomers.
Asteroid 2018 BD discovered. Flyby Jan 18 at 17:27 UT. Dist: 0.11 LD (0.09 LD from Earth surface). Size: 1-5 m. https://t.co/H9jrTJ7xyv
— Minor Planet Center (@MinorPlanetCtr) January 18, 2018
This isn’t the kind of skyscraper-sized asteroid that NASA scientists would want to discover as fast as possible. Larger asteroids must be tracked as they make their journeys through space to ensure they’re not on collision courses with Earth. Even if that were the case, though, it’s not like NASA or anyone else can do anything to avoid a collision. At least, not right now.
Asteroid 2018 BD may have been just too small to be noticed ahead of time. But as CNET rightly points out, 2018 BD may be close enough to do some actual damage to objects orbiting Earth right now like satellites. Such an event could trigger a massive space event where space junk resulting from the impact could destroy even more satellites, though incidents like this are for the most part unlikely.
As for actually crashing into Earth, 2018 BD was probably far too small for that. Instead, it would just burn up while passing through Earth’s atmosphere.