ESA counts down to Asteroid Day with news on riskiest asteroid


A 50-metre asteroid out there has lingered at the top of risk lists around the globe. Initial observations showed 2021 QM1 had a chance of striking Earth in 2052, and frustratingly, follow-up observations soon became impossible. Not only was it outshone by the Sun at a pivotal moment, but QM1 has been receding from view as it moves away from Earth in its current orbit.

ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Centre together with the European Southern Observatory made finding and assessing the risk from 2021 QM1 a top priority, and this June they had a chance to capture the risky asteroid as it edged away from the brilliant Sun. Now extremely faint in the sky, it would take one of the best telescopes in the world to spot it, and if they do, it will be the faintest asteroid ever detected. Did the team find our risky asteroid? Will it, one day, find us?

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