Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The biggest asteroid to pass Earth this year is just coming

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), an asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building will approach Earth on May 27.

Fear not: an asteroid named 7335 (1989 JA) will miss our planet by about 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) — or about 10 times the average distance between Earth and the Moon.

Nevertheless, given the space rock’s enormous size (1.1 mi, or 1.8 km, in diameter) and its relatively close proximity to Earth, NASA has classified the asteroid as “potentially hazardous”, meaning that It can do huge damage to our planet if its orbit ever changes and the rock impacts the Earth.

According to NASA, 7335 (1989 JA) is the largest asteroid that will approach Earth this year. Scientists estimate that the asteroid is traveling at about 47,200 mph (76,000 km/h), or 20 times faster than a fast-moving bullet.

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The rock will not make another close flyby until June 23, 2055, when it will pass further away from this flyby, or within about 70 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

This asteroid is one of more than 29,000 near-Earth objects (NEOs) that NASA tracks every year. According to NASA, NEO refers to any celestial object that passes within approximately 30 million miles (48 million km) of Earth’s orbit.

Most of these objects are extremely small; The agency said 7335 (1989 JA) is larger than the roughly 99 percent NEOs followed by NASA.

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7335 (1989 JA) also fits into a class of asteroid called the Apollo-class — which refers to asteroids that orbit the Sun while periodically crossing Earth’s orbit, Live Science previously reported. Astronomers know about 15,000 such asteroids.

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NASA closely monitors NEOs this way, and recently launched a mission to test whether potentially dangerous asteroids could one day be thrown out of a collision course with Earth.

In November 2021, NASA launched a spacecraft called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which will collide head-on into the 525-foot-wide (160 m) Dimorphos asteroid in the autumn of 2022. The collision won’t destroy the asteroid, but it could slightly change the rock’s orbital path, as previously reported by Live Science.

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This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.

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Nation World News Desk
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