190-foot asteroid rushing towards Earth rapidly; NASA needs your help to track space rocks!

Asteroid 2023 NE1 will make an extremely close approach to Earth today, and you can help NASA track space rocks like this with the Daily Minor Project.

| Updated on: Jul 19 2023, 10:34 IST
Asteroid 2023 NE1 belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids. (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2023 NE1 belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids. (Pixabay)

If you're a budding astronomer and asteroid hunter, then you can help NASA discover and track asteroids in space! NASA's new Daily Minor Planet Project allows astronomers and skywatchers to help discover new asteroids and track them in data sets. To capture asteroids, the Daily Minor Project uses the NASA-funded, University of Arizona-based Catalina Sky Survey which captures nearly 1000 images every night. Due to this volume, NASA scientists fall short of personnel to study these images.

NASA says, “You'll decide if the specks of light in the images look like genuine celestial bodies or, instead, are false detections resulting from inconveniently timed "twinkles" of the star-studded background.” After looking at the image, you just have to click on a yes or a no button and add a comment if necessary, before moving on to the next image.

Asteroid 2023 NE1

NASA keeps an eye on asteroids, comets, and other Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) for potential close approaches that could threaten Earth. The space agency has issued a warning against anasteroid that will come extremely close to Earth today, July 19. As per the details, the asteroid, given the designation Asteroid 2023 NE1, will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 4.8 million kilometres. While this asteroid is not a planet killer, it is still huge, with an estimated width of 190 feet. That makes it almost as big as an aircraft!

Not only will the asteroid pass Earth closely, but it is also hurtling towards us at blistering speed. NASA has revealed that Asteroid 2023 NE1 is approaching Earth at a breakneck speed of 20410 kilometres per hour.

Shockingly, this will be Asteroid 2023 NE1's first-ever close approach to Earth in history. As per NASA's Small-Body Database Lookup, it will not make any further close approach in the near future.

Other details

This space rock belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids which are Earth-approaching near-Earth asteroids with orbits exterior to Earth but interior to Mars', named after asteroid 1221 Amor, which was discovered by Belgian astronomer E. Delporte in 1932.

Why do we need to track asteroids that are millions of kilometres away in space?

According to NASA, some of these ancient space rocks present a potential threat of collision with Earth while others can be helpful in discovering secrets of space. Although asteroids are located far away in space, mainly in the asteroid belt, they often make close approaches to Earth, passing the planet at close distances. This can happen if an asteroid gets knocked off course, affected by a large planet's gravitational pull. Their orbits can also bring them extremely close to Earth.

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First Published Date: 19 Jul, 10:17 IST