91-foot asteroid to pass Earth today; it will come as close as 2.4 mn km to our planet
A 91-foot, Apollo group asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, November 9. Check details such as its speed, distance, and more, as per NASA.
On November 1, NASA's Lucy spacecraft flew by its first-ever asteroid target, named Dinkinesh. The asteroid was observed up close by the spacecraft which made a shocking new discovery - the Dinkinesh asteroid had a small satellite orbiting it! There is more to this than just that. After fully studying the data sent by the Lucy spacecraft, scientists have revealed that the satellite is not made up of one, but two smaller objects touching each other. This is known as a close binary.
In a separate development, NASA has shed light on an asteroid that is set to make its closest approach to Earth today.
Asteroid 2023 VC
As many as 1298148 asteroids have been discovered to date, and Asteroid 2023 VC is one of them. NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has designated this space rock as Asteroid 2023 VC, and it pass Earth at a close distance today, November 9. During its approach, it will come as close as 2.4 million kilometers from the planet's surface. It is hurtling towards Earth at a breakneck speed of 34727 kilometers per hour!
According to NASA, this asteroid is not big enough to be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object. A celestial body has to be at least 492 feet wide and pass Earth at a distance closer than 7.5 million kilometers to be considered a Potentially Hazardous Object. On the other hand, Asteroid 2023 VC is nearly 91 feet wide, making it as big as an aircraft.
It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth's. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.
Astonishingly, this will be Asteroid 2023 VC's first-ever close approach to Earth in history. According to NASA, it is not expected to pass by the planet anytime soon in the near future.
What is the NASA's Lucy mission?
To understand asteroids better, and study the ones not located in the asteroid belt, NASA launched its Lucy mission on October 16, 2021, from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is aimed at studying the Trojans, a group of asteroids that orbit the Sun in two groups (or swarms), according to NASA. It is built to seek out trojan asteroids millions of kilometers from Earth. Earlier this year, the Lucy spacecraft caught a glimpse of its first Trojan asteroid, Dinikinesh, which is about half a kilometer wide.
Although scientists had initially selected 7 asteroid targets for the mission, the discovery of Dinkinesh, and its close binary satellite has bumped up this number to 11.
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