3 dangerous asteroids careening towards Earth today, NASA warns; biggest is a 390-foot monster

Three humongous asteroids namely 2005 RX3, 2022 QB37, and 2022 SB are moving towards Earth today. While one is a monster at 390 feet, which is building sized, another is 180 feet, which is aeroplane sized. Are they dangerous? Find it out here.

| Updated on: Sep 18 2022, 11:26 IST
What is an Asteroid? NASA defines what these dangerous objects in sky are
1/5 An asteroid is a small, rocky object hurtling through the sky. When seen in a telescope, an asteroid 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. (Pixabay)
Asteroid and Earth
2/5 Asteroids have several shapes, they may be spherical, elongated, or oddly shaped. Some asteroids even have their own satellites! Asteroids also vary in size. From Vesta, the largest at about 530 kilometers in diameter, to asteroids that are less than 10 meters in diameter, they can be found in all shapes and sizes. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroids are also called minor planets. These celestial objects are the remains of the period during which our solar system formed, over 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, the current known asteroid count is 1,113,527. (HT_PRINT)
4/5 Asteroids can potentially threaten life on Earth. Apocalyptic movies like Deep Impact, Armageddon and Don't Look Up have always explored the ‘What Ifs’ of world destruction, with the most famous means of world destruction being asteroids crashing into Earth. (Pixabay)
5/5 To counter this, NASA had readied itself to potentially defend the planet against a very similar threat that is posed by asteroids by preparing the DART mission. It involves smashing a spacecraft into an oncoming asteroid at a speed of nearly 23,000kph. This knowledge will be used if an actual asteroid threatens to crash against the Earth. It will help avert an Armageddon on Earth and perhaps, even save humanity from extinction. (NASA)
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Know how dangerous asteroids 2005 RX3, 2022 QB37, and 2022 SB are for planet Earth, courtesy NASA. (Pixabay)

Sunday, September 18 is going to be a quite dangerous for planet Earth! Want to know why? Three humongous asteroids namely, 2005 RX3, 2022 QB37, and 2022 SB, are heading towards our planet today. Asteroid 2005 RX3 is the biggest one amongst all and is 390 FT in size (size of a building). Its closest Earth approach will be 2,950,000 miles. The 2022 QB37 is an airplane's size (180 FT) and will make a closest Earth approach of 4,080,000 miles. Asteroid 2002 SB is the smallest among all and is of the size of a bus (36 FT). How close will this asteroid get to Earth? Scarily, its closest approach to the planet will be just 7,24,000 miles. That is way too close for comfort. Just compare it with the distance of the moon from Earth, which is 238 855 miles. Yes, the asteroid will be closer to Earth than the moon.

How dangerous are these asteroids for our planet?

According to the information provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, all the three asteroids will whizz past the Earth on Sunday, therefore, causing no harm or threat to the planet. According to JPL, an object that is larger than about 150 meters that can approach the Earth to within the distance of 7.5 million kilometers or 19.5 times the distance to the moon is termed a potentially hazardous object.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid's potential to make threateningly close approaches to the Earth. According to the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, asteroids that can't get any closer to the Earth (i.e. MOID) than 0.05 au (roughly 7,480,000 km or 4,650,000 mi) or are smaller than about 150 m (500 ft) in diameter (i.e. H = 22.0 with assumed albedo of 13%) are not considered PHAs.

Also, it can be noted that the potential to make close Earth approaches does not mean a PHA will impact the Earth. It only means there is a possibility for such a threat. By monitoring these PHAs and updating their orbits as new observations become available, the research organisation can predict the close-approach statistics and thus their Earth-impact threat.

The tech behind the science: How NASA studies and tracks asteroids near and far

Surveys done by NASA-supported ground-based telescopes – including Pans-STARRS1 in Maui, Hawaii, as well as the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona – have identified thousands of near-Earth objects. And a 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. Many ground-based telescopes perform follow-up observations to further aid in orbit calculations and to study the physical properties of the objects. These gadgets pack the best technologies of the day when they were built, from chips to software.

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First Published Date: 18 Sep, 11:26 IST
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