Car-size asteroid gives Earth a super-close shave with flyby closer than some satellites

a blue line crosses a white line across a black space. Earth hangs at the lines' interesect.
Orbital trajectories of Earth and asteroid 2024 GJ2. (Image credit: NASA)

An asteroid discovered Tuesday (April 9) will make an extremely close, but harmless, pass by planet Earth today (April 11).

Asteroid 2024 GJ2 is roughly the size of a car and, since its discovery this week, astronomers have calculated that the space rock will graze by Earth at a mere-12 thousand-mile (19.3-thousand-kilometer) distance — that's just three percent the distance between the Earth and the moon. 2024 GJ2 measures between 2.5 and 5 meters (8.2 and 16 feet), according to the European Space Agency (ESA). This means it's an asteroid with a weight-class that would have burned up in Earth's atmosphere, if its orbit happened to intersect ours more directly.

Astronomers believe the asteroid's closest approach distance to Earth will occur at 2:28:42 p.m. EDT (18:28:42 GMT) on Thursday, at a distance of 11,600 miles (18,700 kilometers). That's closer than some geostationary satellites in orbits just over 22,236 miles (35,785 km) above Earth.

Related: Asteroid Apophis will swing past Earth in 2029 — could a space rock collision make it hit us?

The next closest flyby of 2024 GJ2 won't occur until 2093, according to ESA's near-Earth objects coordination center. When that happens, the asteroid won't pass nearly as close as it will today. GJ2's 2093 approach is estimated to fly as close as 127,970 miles (205,947 kilometers) to us — 10 times further than today's flyby, and just over half the distance between Earth and the moon.

NASA has cataloged nearly 35,000 near-Earth asteroids to date, though very few of those pose any threat to the planet.

Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the flyby distance of asteroid 2024 GJ2 via NASA's JPL Asteroid Watch tracker. It is 11,600 miles (18,700 kilometers).

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Josh Dinner
Writer, Content Manager

Josh Dinner is's Content Manager. He is a writer and photographer with a passion for science and space exploration, and has been working the space beat since 2016. Josh has covered the evolution of NASA's commercial spaceflight partnerships, from early Dragon and Cygnus cargo missions to the ongoing development and launches of crewed missions from the Space Coast, as well as NASA science missions and more. He also enjoys building 1:144 scale models of rockets and human-flown spacecraft. Find some of Josh's launch photography on Instagram and his website, and follow him on Twitter, where he mostly posts in haiku.

  • Hardcrunchyscience
    Admin said:
    A newly discovered space rock will harmlessly pass by Earth today. Still, at less than a tenth the distance to the moon, asteroid 2024 GJ2 will miss the planet by the skin of its teeth.

    A car-sized asteroid will pass really, really close to Earth : Read more
    Hhhmmm, a few Earth radii, new definition of really, really close . . . And even if it hit us, something that sized would end up like the remains of Bart's Comet on the Simpsons, about the size of a walnut, bonking a small dog on the noggin. And with about a 0.1% chance of landing anywhere near a city. The probability of it landing within spitting distance of a person is literally billions to 1 or less. This is a headline you see in those pathetic British newspapers.
  • p3orion
    Admin said:
    "The asteroid's closest approach distance to Earth will occur... at a distance of 11,600 miles. That's closer than some geostationary satellites..."

    Some? That's closer than every geostationary satellite, since there's only one altitude at which orbital velocity results in a one-day period: 22, 236 miles.