Bus-Sized Asteroid 'Rerun' Whips Past Earth And Moon

First Posted: Jan 27, 2017 03:41 AM EST

A bus-sized asteroid just closely whizzed by Earth on Tuesday night. reported that an asteroid named 2017 BX passed between Earth and Moon this week at a threatening speed of 17,000 mph (27,358 km/h) according to Slooh observatory. With the proximity of 162,252 miles (261,119 kilometers), the asteroid was nearly two-thirds of the Moon's distance to Earth.

The space rock nicknamed "Rerun" was first discovered on Jan. 20 by astronomers. The near-Earth object tracking agency Minor Planet Center at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics estimated its size between 13 to 46 feet (4 to 14 meters) in diameter, which NASA's Asteroid Watch Tracker then confirmed as 28 feet (8.5m).

"I'd put it on the equivalent of an orca, or a killer whale," Slooh astronomer Eric Edelman said during the asteroid webcast. "We're looking for a killer whale floating out in space over 100,000 miles away from us."

With its incredible speed, finding the faint Rerun was "one of the world's most difficult 'Where's Waldo' games," Edelman added, with the use of Slooh's half-meter telescope in Canary Islands in Spain.

Rerun was named after a 1970s show What's Happening character played by late actor Fred Berry. It came days after another near-Earth asteroid, 2017 AG13, zipped by the planet at a closer proximity of 126,461 miles in the morning of Jan. 9. It measured between 36 to 111 feet in diameter and rushed at a speed of 35,100 mph.

Just last month, the White House released a Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, as per The policy aims to "improve our nation's preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking."

However, earlier warnings of a near-Earth asteroid still remain a problem that urgently needs to be solved.

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