The European Space Agency has issued an urgent call for “eyes on the sky” ’ to avoid being caught unaware by a killer asteroid approaching Earth.
The move comes after last month a potentially deadly asteroid zoomed past Earth just days after it was first spotted.
On 25 July, astronomers watched the 100-metre wide object called 2019 OK come within just 65, 000 km of our planet’s surface.
The object had “previously been observed but wasn’t recognised as a near-Earth asteroid,” ESA admitted.
Now it’s hoping to make sure every asteroid en route to Earth is identified well ahead of time.
“This incident will be used to test software going into ESA’s upcoming asteroid-hunting telescope, the Flyeye,” said Rüdiger Jehn, ESA’s Head of Planetary Defence.
NASA, in turn, will be closely monitoring Asteroid 2006 QQ23, set to pass by Earth on 10 August.
The massive rock, supposedly 570m in diameter and bigger than New York’s Empire State Building, has been classified as a “near-Earth object” (NEO) and will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 4.6 million miles shortly after 3am.
The US space agency insists there’s no danger of the rock hitting Earth.
According to NASA, it has identified over 90 percent of near-Earth objects measuring a kilometre or larger, a collision with which would spell global disaster.
However, smaller space rocks are much harder to detect, as the agency has been working to identify NEOs in the 140-meter range, to eventually pinpoint at least 90 percent of them.