An asteroid similar in size to one that exploded more than 100 years ago in the Russian region of Tunguska in Siberia gave the Earth a shave on Sunday (April 15), only one day after astronomers discovered the object.
designated 2018 GE3, made its closest approach to Earth around 2:41 a.m. EDT (0641 GMT), buzzing at a distance of 119,400 miles (192,000 kilometers), or roughly half the average distance between Earth and the Moon, according to the NASA Center for Near-Earth Studies (CNEOS).
NASA estimated that this asteroid measured 157 to 360 feet (48 to 110 meters) wide, making the rocky space 3.6 times larger than the one that razed 500,000 acres (2,000 square kilometers) of Siberian forest when it exploded on Tunguska in 1908. [Gallery: Potentially Dangerous Asteroids]
This new asteroid is three to six times larger than another recent meteor, which broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. That object wounded more than 1,200 people and damaged thousands of buildings up to 58 miles (93 km) away from the impact site.
"If 2018 GE3 had hit the Earth, it would have caused regional, not global, damage and could have disintegrated in the atmosphere before reaching the ground," SpaceWeather.com reported. . "However, it is a significant asteroid, which illustrates how even large space rocks can still take us by surprise." 2018 GE3 was found less than a day before its closest approach "
Asteroid 2018 GE3 was discovered for the first time on Saturday (April 14) at 5:23 a.m. EDT (0923 GMT) by astronomers in the Catalina Sky Survey, a program sponsored by NASA at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This first sighting occurred only 21 hours before the closest asteroid approach to Earth.