After debris breaks off DART target asteroid, NASA tracks another asteroid heading for Earth

Asteroid 2015 MA54 will make an extremely close approach to Earth today, and NASA has revealed details such as its speed, size, and distance of approach. Here’s everything we know so far.

| Updated on: Jul 24 2023, 07:37 IST
Asteroid alert! NASA tracks 5 space rocks approaching Earth at breakneck speeds
Asteroid 2015 MA54
1/5 Asteroid 2023 OS - Asteroid 2023 OS, is currently heading towards Earth and will pass closely by Earth today, July 21. The asteroid is nearly the size of an aircraft with a width of 150 feet. It is travelling at almost 38946 kilometers per hour and will make its closest approach at 1.9 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2015 MA54
2/5 Asteroid NM1 – Asteroid NM1, which is nearly 110 feet wide, is heading for Earth and will also make a close approach today, July 21. It is moving at a blistering speed of 31998 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a close distance of 5 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2015 MA54
3/5 Asteroid 2023 MX5 – Yet another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 MX5 will make its closest approach to Earth today, July 21. In terms of size, it is almost 250 feet wide. As per NASA, it will come as close as 4.5 million kilometers and is already moving at a speed of 42540 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2015 MA54
4/5 Asteroid 2023 NR1 – Asteroid 2023 NR1 will make its extremely close approach to the planet tomorrow, July 22. The asteroid, with a width of around 300 feet, will approach at a distance of 1.1 million kilometers and at a speed of nearly 54710 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
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5/5 Asteroid 2023 MM3 – Asteroid 2023 MM3, with a width of nearly 200 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, July 22. The space rock is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 22958 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of 7.3 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2015 MA54
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Asteroid 2015 MA54 belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids. (NASA JPL)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) made history on September 26, 2022, as it successfully carried out its first-ever planetary defense test to protect Earth against potential asteroid impacts. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART, involved smashing a spacecraft into the oncoming Dimorphos asteroid to knock it off its course. While the mission was a success, an after-effect was observed a couple of months later as the Hubble Space Telescope captured 37 previously unseen objects around the asteroid in its orbit.

As per research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on July 21, these objects are smaller space rocks that broke off the asteroid upon the spacecraft's impact.

In other news, NASA has also published details of an expected close encounter with an asteroid today.

Asteroid 2015 MA54

The US space agency has issued a warning against an asteroid that will come extremely close to Earth today, July 24. As per the details, the asteroid, given the designation Asteroid 2015 MA54, will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 6.3 million kilometers. it is also hurtling toward us at blistering speed. NASA has revealed that Asteroid 2015 MA54 is approaching Earth at a breakneck speed of 33136 kilometers per hour.

While this asteroid is not a planet killer, it is still bigger than the Chelyabinsk asteroid which exploded over the Russian city in 2013, damaging over 8000 buildings and injuring almost 1000 people. With a width of 97 feet, Asteroid 2015 MA54 can be compared to a small aircraft.

Other details

This space rock 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.

Shockingly, this will not be the first time that Asteroid 2015 MA54 comes close to Earth. It made its first-ever close approach on June 25, 2015, when it passed the planet at a distance of 2.6 million kilometers. 

NASA has also gone on to predict that this asteroid will make its last closest approach nearly 100 years from now! It will come as close as 8.3 million kilometers of Earth on September 9, 2117.

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First Published Date: 24 Jul, 07:36 IST