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A Jumbo-Jet-Size Asteroid Just Zipped Safely by Earth

An asteroid the size of a jumbo jet flew by Earth Wednesday (July 24) at a distance closer than the moon is to our planet.

The massive space rock was about 222,000 miles (357,000 kilometers) from Earth when it made its closest approach, at 9:31 a.m. EDT (1331 GMT), according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies. (On average, the distance between the moon and Earth is 239,000 miles, or 385,000 km.) 

The asteroid, called 2019 OD, is between 184 and 394 feet (56 to 120 meters) in diameter, according to NASA. It was discovered just two days before its close approach to Earth but posed no threat to our planet. 

Related: Space Rocks! Potentially Dangerous Asteroids in Pictures

The orbit of Asteroid 2019 OD (shown in white) as it flew by Earth at a distance of 222,000 miles (357,000 kilometers) 

(Image credit: NASA)

Two other asteroids also passed by Earth today, just a few hours apart, but they didn't come quite as close as 2019 OD. 

Asteroid 2015 HM10, which flew by Earth at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) is up to 360 feet wide (110 m). However, it got only as close as 2.9 million miles (4.7 million km) to Earth. That's more than 12 times the distance to the moon.

A third asteroid flew by Earth about an hour after 2019 OD. Asteroid 2019 OE came within 601,000 miles (967,000 km) of Earth at 10:36 a.m. EDT (1436 GMT), but it's smaller than the other two, measuring 75 to 170 feet (23 to 52 m) in diameter.

Asteroids that come within 5 million miles (8 million km) of Earth's orbit are deemed potentially hazardous by NASA even if they have a pretty slim chance of impacting Earth. However, tracking all near-Earth objects helps the agency study ways to protect our planet in the event a hazardous object were to pose a  threat

Earth had a close call in April, when asteroid 2019 GC6, a house-size space rock, flew by our planet at a distance of 136,000 miles (219,000 km). The potentially hazardous space object was detected just nine days before the flyby.

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