Arizona-Based NASA Project Detects Large Asteroid

Karen Martin | Wupatki National Monument

An Arizona-based group that scans the night sky for near-Earth asteroids recently detected one that passed within 119,000 miles of our planet.

That might not seem very close, but according to KTAR radio, the asteroid — which is about as wide as a football field is long — is the largest space rock of its size to come that close to Earth in recorded history. (To put it in perspective, the moon is about 239,000 miles from Earth, on average.)

The Catalina Sky Survey, based in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, detected the asteroid, which passed by Earth on April 15. (You might remember the Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA-funded University of Arizona program, from the June 2017 issue of Arizona Highways.)

The asteroid was detected only a day before the close encounter. A similarly sized asteroid created Meteor Crater, east of Flagstaff, about 50,000 years ago, KTAR reported.

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