Aircraft-sized asteroid hurtling towards Earth; You too can help NASA track these space rocks

As part of NASA’s Daily Minor Project, budding astronomers can help the space agency track asteroids like Asteroid 2023 PD1, which is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, August 18.

| Updated on: Aug 18 2023, 11:16 IST
140-foot asteroid speeding towards Earth at a fiery 54196 kmph, says NASA; Check all details
1/5 According to NASA, the celestial object is called the 2011 QJ21. The asteroid is rushing at a massive speed towards Earth. As per Jet Propulsion Laboratory,  it is going to make a very close approach on August 19. (NASA)
2/5 As per Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) data, the asteroid 2023 OW4 is on a trajectory towards the Earth at a rapid speed of 54196 km per hour.  (Pixabay)
3/5 NASA reports that asteroid QJ21 will get as near as 4,960,000 km to the Earth. This may look like a huge distance, but in astronomical terms it is quite small. (Pixabay)
4/5 The asteroid has a size of 140 feet, which is as huge as an aeroplane. The space rock belongs to the Apollo group of Near-earth objects. (Pixabay)
5/5 NASA has stated that the asteroid doesn't pose any risk to Earth. Still, NASA is actively observing the asteroid's trajectory, as occasional deviations can happen for various reasons. (Pixabay)
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Asteroid 2023 PD1 belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids. (REUTERS)

We know that asteroids revolve around the Sun in their own elliptical orbits, and most of them are located in the main asteroid belt present between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. So how do they come close to Earth? According to NASA, 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. Although these close approaches might threaten the planet, they can also help scientists study asteroids up close which can aid in discovering secrets of space!

NASA has now revealed that an asteroid is set to pass Earth very closely today and has issued details about its close approach.

Asteroid 2023 PD1

The space agency has issued a warning against an asteroid that will come extremely close to Earth today, August 18. As per the details, the asteroid, given the designation Asteroid 2023 PD1, will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 5.8 million kilometers. While this asteroid is not a planet killer, it is still huge, with an estimated width of 95 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 PD1 is approaching Earth at a breakneck speed of 26962 kilometers per hour.

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.

Shockingly, this will be Asteroid 2023 PD1's first-ever close approach to Earth in history. As per the details provided by NASA's Small-Body Database Lookup, the asteroid will not make any further close approach in the near future.

Help NASA track asteroids

NASA's new Daily Minor Planet Project allows astronomers and skywatchers to help discover new asteroids and track them in data sets. So, if you're a budding astronomer and asteroid hunter, then you can help NASA discover and track asteroids in space! 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.

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. That's how you can help NASA keep an eye on these ancient space rocks!

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First Published Date: 18 Aug, 11:11 IST