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Tucson-based project discovered asteroid that passed close to Earth

(Catalina Sky Survey Screenshot)

PHOENIX — The Tucson-based group, Catalina Sky Survey, discovered a large, rare asteroid that came within 40,000 miles of Earth.

The NASA-funded project found the asteroid on Feb. 4 and determined it was not a threat to Earth despite how close it came.

“Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet – maybe only once or twice a year,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a statement.

The Catalina Sky Survey also discovered an asteroid of similar size that passed by Earth just two days before 2018 CB.

The asteroid, named 2018 CB, was somewhere between 50 to 130 feet and moved at 26,000 miles per hour. It came within 40,000 miles of the Earth, less than one-fifth the distance to the moon.

Catalina Sky Survey has recorded over 8,000 total near-earth objects since it was founded in 1995, including 169 just this year.

One of the group’s most famous discoveries came in 2008. Observer Richard Kowalski found the first asteroid in history that was detected before it impacted Earth.

It was found 20 hours before it exploded in the atmosphere above Sudan. Scientists were able to recover fragments of the asteroid.

Founded in 1995, the purpose of the project is to discover and track near-earth objects. It works out of the University of Arizona campus.

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