600-foot asteroid discovered by AI passing Earth! Worryingly, was not detected by astronomers

A new AI algorithm has discovered a previously unseen potentially hazardous asteroid, raising questions about Earth's safety and the need for improved monitoring.

| Updated on: Aug 06 2023, 12:29 IST
1200-foot asteroid, 4 other space rocks set for close encounter with Earth
1/5 Asteroid 2023 OR5 – Asteroid 2023 OR5 will make its extremely close approach to the planet today, August 4. The asteroid, with a width of around 96 feet, will approach at a distance of 2.8 million kilometers and a speed of nearly 26862 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
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2/5 Asteroid 2014 QL433 – The biggest of them all, Asteroid 2014 QL433 is nearly the size of the Empire State Building with a width of almost 1200 feet. It will also make its closest approach to Earth today, August 4. The space rock is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 74246 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of 5.3 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2023 OQ - Asteroid 2023 OQ, is currently heading towards Earth and will pass closely by Earth on August 6. The asteroid is huge, with a width of around 450 feet. It is travelling at almost 76752 kilometers per hour and will make its closest approach at a distance of 3.8 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
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4/5 Asteroid 2022 BS2 – Asteroid 2022 BS2, with a width of nearly 150 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth on August 11. The space rock is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 29585 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of 6.6 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
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5/5 Asteroid 2023 OE5 – Another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 OE5 will make its closest approach to Earth on August 14. In terms of size, it is almost 130 feet wide. As per NASA, it will come as close as 1.5 million kilometers and is already moving at a speed of 13934 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
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AI discovers unseen asteroid, Earth's safety in question. (Pixabay)

In a groundbreaking discovery, an AI algorithm named HelioLinc3D has identified a previously unseen asteroid that has been classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA). It is a 600-foot wide asteroid. Named Asteroid 2022 GN1, it is comparable in size to a skyscraper and, worryingly, it had gone unnoticed until now. In fact, it flew past Earth at a distance of 4.5 million miles in September 2022.

Unknown Dangers Lurking in Space

While the immediate threat to life is minimal, the finding raises concerns about how many more PHAs might be lurking undetected in our cosmic neighborhood. PHAs are sizable asteroids with a diameter of at least 460 feet and an orbit bringing them within 0.05 astronomical units (approximately 4.6 million miles) from Earth, according to a National World report.

The HelioLinc3D algorithm's success lies in its ability to analyze data from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a telescope designed to detect rapidly moving objects in the night sky. Even with limited visibility, the algorithm was able to locate 2022 GN1.

The Success of HelioLinc3D

This discovery could revolutionize how near-Earth objects are monitored, emphasizing that many potentially hazardous asteroids remain undiscovered. Presently, scientists know about 2,350 PHAs, but it is estimated that more than 3,000 others are yet to be found.

A New Era in Asteroid Monitoring

The HelioLinc3D algorithm will be officially deployed to process data from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, an advanced telescope situated in the Chilean mountains. This partnership is expected to significantly increase the detection and monitoring of PHAs, thereby improving our understanding of potential risks.

By precisely calculating the orbits and predicting future paths of these asteroids, scientists can respond promptly and consider mitigation efforts if any are found on a collision course with Earth. A PHA with a diameter of around 0.6 miles or more could cause catastrophic global destruction, triggering tsunamis, drastic climate changes, and posing a threat to various species, including humanity.

However, current data indicates that the likelihood of such a catastrophic impact within the next century is relatively low, likely less than 1%. Nevertheless, with the continuous advancements in asteroid tracking technology, our vigilance in monitoring potentially hazardous asteroids remains crucial for Earth's safety.

As the Rubin Observatory and HelioLinc3D algorithm team up to explore the skies, we can expect greater insights into the cosmos, offering reassurance and protection for our planet.

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First Published Date: 06 Aug, 12:29 IST