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Mar 3, 2022

The Rise and Fall of the Riskiest Asteroid in a Decade — “I’ve Never Seen Such a Risky Object”

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, existential risks

For a few tense days this January, a roughly 70-meter asteroid became the riskiest observed in over a decade. Despite the Moon’s attempt to scupper observations, the asteroid is now known to be entirely safe.

Initial observations of an asteroid dubbed ‘2022 AE1’ showed a potential Earth impact on July 4, 2023 – not enough time to attempt deflection and large enough to do real damage to a local area should it strike.

Worryingly, the chance of impact appeared to increase based on the first seven days of observations, followed by a dramatic week ‘in the dark’ as the full Moon outshone the potential impactor, ruling out further observations. As the Moon moved aside, the skies dimmed and ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre (NEOCC) took another look, only to find the chance of impact was dramatically falling.

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