A small asteroid the size of a bus will fly safely by Earth today

A newly discovered asteroid about the size of a bus will zip safely by Earth today (May 3), passing at a distance just over halfway to the moon. 

The asteroid 2020 JA will fly by Earth at a range of about 148,000 miles (238,000 kilometers) when it passes today. That's about 0.62 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. (The moon is about 239,000 miles, or 385,000 km, on average.)

Asteroid 2020 JA is between 31 and 72 feet wide (9.6 to 22 meters), according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies. NASA's Asteroid Watch widget listed the asteroid's diameter as about 40 feet (12 m) and compared its size to a city bus.

Related: Potentially dangerous asteroids (images)

This NASA graphic shows the path of asteroid 2020 JA, a newfound bus-sized space rock that will fly safely by Earth at a distance of 148,000 miles on May 3, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Ceccano, Italy captured an image of 2020 JA with a telescope. In the image, the asteroid appears as a tiny point of light in a star field.

Small asteroids like 2020 JA zip by Earth several times a month, and typically pose no risk to our planet, NASA officials have said. For example, a tiny asteroid called 2020 HS7 passed Earth at a distance of 23,000 miles (36,400 km) on April 28 but posed no risk of impact.

Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi captured this image of the newfound asteroid 2020 JA from Ceccano, Italy on May 2, 2020. The asteroid fly within 148,000 miles of Earth on May 3. (Image credit: Virtual Telescope Project/Gianluca Masi)

Scientists with NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office regularly track near-Earth objects like comets and asteroids to search for potential impact threats to our planet. To date, astronomers have found 22,776 near-Earth objects, more than 95% of them discovered through NASA-funded surveys, the agency has said. 

New asteroids like 2020 H7 and  2020 JA are being discovered all the time at a rate of 30 each day, NASA has said.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.

  • sunstance
    Do you get he neo spatial maps , I find them useful to see what heading our way, . I personally think everyone is concern when an asteroid does a rotation then leaves.