An asteroid the size of a double-decker bus has hurtled past Earth just days after it was first spotted.The seven-metre wide asteroid – known as HL 129 – came within 186,000 miles of earth over the weekend, closer than the Moon’s orbit. The Moon is on average 238,855 miles away from our planet. The space rock had only been spotted on Wednesday, relatively short notice for an asteroid.
It was spotted by Nasa’s Asteroid Watch project based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The asteroid came closer than the DX110 rock in March, which was spotted by stargazers as it travelled past Earth at a distance of 216,000 miles. Last month Edward Lu, a former astronaut, said the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a “city-killer” sized asteroid was “blind luck”.
He is the co-inventor of a “gravity tractor”, a theoretical device he says could be used to pull dangerous asteroid’s away from the Earth’s orbit using a gravitational tug. The asteroid 2007 VK184 – once believed to be the most significant threat to Earth over the next century – has recently been removed from Nasa’s asteroid impact hazard list. Latest observations show it will pass no closer than 1.2 million miles from Earth in June 2048.