Scientists at the University of Central Florida have previously said the newly discovered asteroid 2020 NK1 “has been calculated to be one of the biggest known threats to all known asteroids on NASA’s list of potential hitters,” according tomedia CNET. Now the asteroid has been found to be safe.
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico began work after experiencing Tropical Storm Isaias, collecting data on asteroid 2020 NK1, the first to be discovered in mid-July. Uncertainty about its path in space makes it a high priority on NASA’s watch list of potentially dangerous objects.
Early observations estimated the asteroid’s diameter at about 1,600 feet (488 meters) and the chance of hitting Earth between 2086 and 2101 was one in 70,000. This is what Arecibo’s radar observations do. The team was able to collect measurements of speed and distance and even capture radar images of asteroids.
New data show that even when the closest to Earth in 2043, the asteroid 2020 NK1 will still fly safely at a distance of 2.25 million miles (3.6 million kilometers). “This shows that while Puerto Rico has responded to storms, COVID-19 pandemics and earthquakes this year, we have very fast response times and high-precision range, motion and dimensional measurement capabilities,” said Anne Wilkie, head of the Observatory’s Planetary Radar Group.
NASA’s Asteroid Watch Twitter account retweeted the good news Friday.