NASA has revealed that 3 asteroids passed Earth at extremely close distances yesterday. Before knowing the details, you should know that an asteroid is a rocky object in space travelling at massive speed and when seen in a telescope, it appears as a point of light, according to NASA. Most asteroids are found in a ring between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter called the Asteroid Belt. These celestial objects are the remains of the period during which our solar system formed, over 4.6 billion years ago.
An asteroid, named Asteroid 2022 VP1, is on its way towards Earth today, December 5. The asteroid was spotted by NASA’s Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which is responsible for monitoring the skies and keeping a watch on various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). What’s shocking is that the asteroid is nearly the size of a commercial aircraft, with a width of nearly 170 feet!
The Asteroid 2022 VP1 is expected to make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of 6.6 million kilometers today at a speed of 25455 kilometers per hour, as per NASA.
The PDCO classifies NEOs as potentially hazardous if they come within around 7.5 million to 8 million kilometers of Earth.
The Asteroid 2022 VP1 belongs to the Apollo group and orbits the Sun, taking around 881 days to complete one trip. During this orbit, its maximum distance from the Sun is 397 million kilometers and minimum distance 141 million kilometers, according to the-sky.org.
NASA’s space-based telescope called NEOWISE has identified hundreds of others while scanning the skies at near-infrared wavelengths of light from its polar orbit around Earth. But the NEOWISE wasn’t always built for this purpose.
It was a data retrieval project to get back asteroid detections and characteristics from WISE, a NASA observatory launched back in 2009. In 2011, the coolant aboard the spacecraft ran out, which is necessary as the spacecraft used cryogenically cooled detectors that made them sensitive to infrared light. Since the spacecraft’s infrared sensors were working efficiently, NASA repurposed it to track various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) such as asteroids, and it was named NEOWISE.
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