Future Space Telescope Would Have Spotted Asteroid That Passed Earth Undetected, NASA Tells Media
The 2021 SG asteroid passed by Earth on 16 September at around half the distance between our planet and the Moon.
While NASA apparently failed to notice the massive asteroid, named, 2021 SG, before it whizzed past our planet earlier this month, a representative of the space agency argued that a certain tool at NASA's disposal would have been able to locate the rock.
According to the Daily Mail, Paul Chodas, director of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said that the Near-Earth Object Surveyor space telescope, which is scheduled to launch in 2026, 'probably' would have spotted the rock.
“Because of its far greater sensitivity over current asteroid surveys, NEO Surveyor probably would have detected this asteroid on a different part of the asteroid’s orbit, when the asteroid was farther away from the sun direction,” Chodas told the newspaper in an email.
He also explained that 2021 SG wasn't initially detected due to its “very eccentric orbit,” adding that the rock “approached the Earth last week from the general direction of the Sun.”
“This asteroid was positioned in the daytime sky as it approached Earth. Once it passed by, however, it transitioned into the nighttime sky, became easily visible to our asteroid surveys, and was promptly detected,” Chodas reportedly said.
The asteroid, whose diameter was estimated as between 42 and 94 metres, passed by Earth on 16 September at about half the distance between Earth and the Moon.