Nasa tracks over 26,000 near-Earth asteroids and over 1000 of these are considered potentially hazardous.
The asteroid’s path as seen in White crosses Earth’s orbit. (Source: JPL)
From Judgment Day to Armageddon, movie after movie has tried to capture what it would be like if a giant asteroid struck Earth. What happens when an asteroid manages to enter our planet’s atmosphere has always remained a topic of fascination and fear alike. Earth and the Moon have had several impact events as some asteroids manage to enter the atmosphere, surviving the burn.
The latest asteroid to come close to the planet is 2021KT1, an asteroid the size of the Eiffel Tower in Paris! While Nasa, which tracks asteroid movement, is yet to say anything about its direct impact probability, it is likely to zip past the planet on June 1.
An asteroid is a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun and anything larger than one to two kilometres impacting the surface could have worldwide effects. The asteroid will fly past Earth at a speed of 64,374 km per hour and NASA estimates that 2021 KT1 is between 492 feet and 1,082 feet in diameter.
Classified as “potentially hazardous,” 2021KT1 will make a close approach with Earth at a distance of 4.5 million km. Any object closer than 4.6 million km is considered a potentially hazardous object to Earth.
Nasa is yet to say anything about its direct impact probability. (Photo: JPL)
Nasa tracks over 26,000 near-Earth asteroids and over 1000 of these are considered potentially hazardous. The agency tracks the movement of the asteroid around Sun to establish its location, computing an elliptical path that best fits the available observations of the object. “the object’s computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same times,” JPL said in a statement.
Earlier on March 21, 2001FO32 became the largest asteroid to pass by Earth when it came as close as two million kilometres, roughly 5.25 times the distance of the Earth from the Moon. The asteroid passed by at about 124,000 kilometres per hour, faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth. Nasa had said that more than 95 per cent of near-Earth asteroids the size of 2001FO32 or larger have been catalogued and none of them has any chance of impacting our planet over the next century.
The next time 2001FO32 will be close to Earth will be in 2052.
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