Science and Technology

‘Surprise’ asteroid passes near Earth just days after discovery

The asteroid is the dimensions of two soccer fields, and its impression on Earth would launch the equal of a thousand nuclear bombs. (Photo: Reproduction/NSA Lab)

A newly found asteroid the dimensions of two soccer fields has handed near Earth.
The rock, referred to as 2022 OE2, was found in late July with a minimal distance of 5.1 million kilometers, greater than 13 occasions the gap between Earth and the moon.

An asteroid hitting Earth would launch the equal of a thousand nuclear bombs. But settle down, there isn’t a purpose to panic. That’s as a result of in line with NASA, though the star is “shut” when it comes to astronomical distances, it is nonetheless very, very distant from colliding with our planet.

The asteroid is Apollo-class, a reputation given to these asteroids that orbit the solar and whose paths by way of area typically intersect Earth’s orbit. More than 15,000 such objects are recognized and monitored by area companies.

According to NASA, a recognized asteroid is not going to hit Earth for the following 100 years. But it is price emphasizing the “recognized”: we’re discovering new objects on a regular basis, lots of which come from “blind spots,” such because the path towards the solar, the place most telescopes cannot detect them.

For comparability functions, on July 7, asteroid 2022 NF was solely 90,000 kilometers from us, a a lot smaller distance than it’s now, and nonetheless secure. So do not panic, we can’t be destroyed by asteroids as we speak.

But you is likely to be pondering: If these asteroids are so distant, why is it vital to maintain monitor of them? Despite the good distance, surprising heading modifications can happen, comparable to a collision with one other asteroid or the gravitational impression of one other planet. This situation can be seen as extremely unlikely, however doubtlessly catastrophic.

That’s why NASA is growing and launching the DART mission, or “Double Asteroid Redirection Test,” in September 2021. It will check a brand new idea to keep away from a possible collision between an asteroid and Earth: as an alternative of destroying rocks, as many have advised, the thought is to ship a spacecraft to collide with it at low pace, giving a change that might change The “thrust” it orbits and avoids impression. That is, in fact, if we are able to spot and discover her in time.

Testing can be achieved by colliding the DART spacecraft with Dimorphos, a 160-meter-long asteroid orbiting a bigger asteroid referred to as Didymos at 780 meters. A European cubesat referred to as LICIACube will carefully monitor the impression and modifications in Dimorphos’ trajectories and transfer away from Earth to let scientists know if the plan is working.