On October 19, two asteroids flew by Earth at a proximity that scientists say was closer than the moon. These two asteroids, 2020 UX and 2020 TF6, were less than half of the distance of the moon away.
Discovered on October 15, 2020, UX is about 12 feet wide and, at its closest point, was about 118,000 miles from Earth. 2020 TF6 was discovered on October 17 and is slightly bigger at about 60 feet wide. Its closest proximity was about 95,400 miles from Earth.
On October 20, NASA is attempting to collect its first-ever sample from an asteroid. The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is hoping to collect samples from the asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft was initially launched in 2016 and arrived at the asteroid within two years. Although they hope to “tag” the asteroid on October 20, 2020, samples will not be returned to earth until the probe returns in 2023.
These past few days have been relatively filled with news of asteroids; however, flybys like those of 2020 UX and 2020 TF6 are common. On Wednesday, October 21, two more asteroids are expected to come just within the moon’s orbit.