An asteroid barely missed Earth last week, and no one knew it was coming

An asteroid about the size of a refrigerator shot past Earth last week, and astronomers didn’t know the object existed until hours after it was gone.

It was a close call (from a cosmic perspective); the space rock’s trajectory on Oct. 24 carried it over Antarctica within 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers) of Earth — closer than some satellites — making it the third-closest asteroid to approach the planet without actually hitting it, CNET reported.

Scientists were unaware of the object, dubbed Asteroid 2021 UA1, because it approached Earth’s daytime side from the direction of the sun, so the comparatively dim and small visitor went undetected until about 4 hours after passing by at its closest point, according to CNET.

Source: An asteroid barely missed Earth last week, and no one knew it was coming