Asteroids are ancient rubble left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, according to NASA. They can generally be spotted within the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Interaction with a planet’s gravitational field, especially as large as Jupiter, can knock the asteroid off-its orbit and send it hurtling in all directions. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office keeps a check on these Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) for any potential collision with Earth and declares them as Potentially Hazardous Objects if they come within around 8 million kilometers of Earth.
Now, the space agency has issued an alert against a very similar asteroid that is rushing towards the planet today, December 9.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has red-flagged an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 WP11 due to its extremely close approach with the planet. It is absolutely gigantic with a width of 220 feet, making it nearly as big as a commercial aircraft! The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth today, December 9, at a distance of 4.5 million kilometers per hour. It is already on its way towards the planet travelling at a speed of nearly 62352 kilometers per hour!
According to the-sky.org, the Asteroid 2022 WP11 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. It was discovered recently on November 30. This asteroid takes 1004 days to complete one trip around the Sun during which its maximum distance from the Sun is 440 million kilometers and nearest distance is 147 million kilometers.
The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) uses its Sentry impact-monitoring system to continuously perform long-term analysis of possible future orbits of hazardous asteroids. CNEOS also has a scout system in place which continuously monitors the sky for new Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) which might potentially pose a threat to Earth, even before they have been confirmed as new discoveries.
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