There are several asteroids that make their close appearance towards Earth every week. But space scientists have warned about a massive asteroid that will pass by the Earth in the early hours of 16 May. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Near-Earth asteroid has been named Asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) which is estimated to be up to 960 feet (292.8 m) in diameter and will make a close approach to our planet at 2.48 AM on May 16. This is said to be around the size of the Eiffel Tower which is 300 meters in height. So, does this huge asteroid pose any risk to Earth?
Looking at the massive size of the asteroid, it can definitely cause huge damage if it hits the Earth. But the good news is the estimated close approach distance between the asteroid and Earth is pretty large. According to NASA, the asteroid will pass the Earth from a distance of about 5,740,000 Km. Then, why did NASA flag it as a 'close approach'? Because, the figure may seem large, but in astronomical terms, it is quite small.
You will be surprised to know that this is not the first time that asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) will be making its close approach to the Earth. The last time the asteroid passed close to Earth was in May 2020 which was at a distance of just 1.7 million miles. However, this near-Earth object frequently passes the Earth, every two years while orbiting the Sun, scientists revealed. Though, it is not expected to make another such close approach to Earth until May 2163.
Also, despite having a gigantic size, luckily this asteroid is not categorised as “potentially hazardous” by NASA.
Well, even if an asteroid poses any harm towards Earth, then several space agencies, including NASA are planning a strategy to defend the planet from disaster that could be similar to what the dinosaurs went through. Recently, NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission which aims to deflect an asteroid from its path “through kinetic impact”. In effect, NASA will crash a spacecraft into the asteroid and see what kind of an impact it has.
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