The BuzzFeed News portal has revealed NASA's internal communications in which U.S. space agency officials admit they failed to detect a huge asteroid, named 2019 OK, which on July 25 unusually passed near Earth at a speed of more 24.5 kilometers per second.
"As tomorrow there may be media coverage, I am alerting you that, in approximately 30 minutes, an asteroid of a size of 57-130 meters will pass only 0.19 lunar distances from Earth (a distance five times smaller than the one that separates our planet of the Moon) 2019 OK It was discovered about 24 hours ago by the Brazilian team SONEAR, "wrote the head of the Office of Planetary Defense, Lindley Johnson.
The fact that NASA only detected 2019 OK only 24 hours before its appearance, revealed the insufficiencies of its potentially dangerous incoming space rock surveillance system.
Two weeks after Earth avoided the asteroid crash, the agency issued a press release stating that if 2019 OK had entered the Earth's atmosphere, "the shock wave could have created a devastation located in an area of approximately 80.5 kilometers wide".
"Today the media have some interest in 2019 OK (…), so I am motivated to look for the answer to a question that I am sure they will ask us. Namely, Why 2019 OK was not discovered by one of NASA's main capture networks? Why was it not discovered until it was found by an 11-inch telescope (SONEAR)? "Wrote the manager of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, Paul Chodas, in one of the leaked messages.
"Yes, this object arrived at a bad time, during the lunarization, but are there other reasons why all the important networks did not discover it? Can we attribute it to bad weather?"
Huge asteroid passes between Earth and the Moon (and nobody notices)
It passed through the Earth's proximity at a distance of 73,000 kilometers and could have been seen with simple binoculars, but the scientists did not have time to give the news to the world pic.twitter.com/uK8Ul63uly
– RT in Spanish (@ActualidadRT) July 26, 2019
While some astronomers tried to find the reasons for the failure, others could not contain themselves when criticizing the media, which described the asteroid as a "city killer."
"An asteroid can't be a 'city killer' when it passes 70,000 kilometers from Earth. And if an impact could occur, it would not release any nuclear radiation, "says another text (from an unidentified sender) that appears among the filtered materials, dated July 27.
"By the way, it seems that 2019 OK is the largest asteroid to pass so close to Earth in a century! Nothing so large is predicted to pass so close (from Earth) before Apophis in 2029," Lindley said. a message to Chodas.
- On July 25, Brazilian astronomers at the Sonear Observatory detected a new asteroid, named 2019 OK, of dimensions similar to a soccer field.
- The scientists did not notice his presence until a few hours before his arrival.
- At that time it was estimated that the celestial body, with a diameter of between 57 and 130 meters, passed at a distance of 73,000 kilometers our planet, at a speed of 88,500 kilometers per hour (24.5 kilometers per second).