Here’s something that happens every few years: Your local news will tease out a story about a recently identified asteroid that might one day strike the Earth and obliterate you and everyone you love—all Melancholia style.
And then a week later, those same newspeople will get back on the air with a brief update about how, upon further analysis, that big planet-smasher actually won’t hit us. And now here’s Tom with the weather.
How often do these existential extraterrestrial encounters occur? Unsettlingly often! For example, NASA just released footage from a fly-by of a potentially hazardous, but adorably nicknamed “space peanut” (AKA Asteroid 1999 JD6), which—just last week—flew within 4.5 million miles of the Earth, or about 19 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
Now, 4.5 million miles may not seem all that close—it’s certainly it’s not close enough to do any damage. However, on the scale of the solar system, 4.5 million miles = juuuuust missed.