Asteroid set to pass Earth at a breakneck speed of 51636 kmph; NASA reveals size, other details | Tech News

Asteroid set to pass Earth at a breakneck speed of 51636 kmph; NASA reveals size, other details

NASA has tracked Asteroid 2021 CZ2 in its orbit which will bring it close to Earth today, January 16. Know details such as its speed, size, distance of approach, and more.

| Updated on: Jan 16 2024, 13:28 IST
370-foot asteroid, 4 other space rocks to pass Earth soon, reveals NASA; Check details
1/5 Asteroid 2020 AC1 - The first asteroid to pass Earth today, January 11, is designated Asteroid 2020 AC1. During its approach, it will come as close as 7.3 million kilometers to the planet. According to NASA, the space rock is 23 feet wide and is travelling at a speed of almost 19139 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2023 WZ3 – The second asteroid on its way is designated Asteroid 2023 WZ3, and it will pass by Earth today, January 11. According to NASA, this space rock has a staggering width of 115 feet. Its orbit will take it almost as close as 6.1 million kilometers to the planet’s surface while moving at a speed of 14352 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2024 AR1 – Another space rock named Asteroid 2024 AR1 will pass Earth on January 13. In terms of size, the asteroid is almost 115 feet wide. As per NASA, it will come as close as 3.8 million kilometers and is already moving at a speed of 16318 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
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4/5 Asteroid 2015 AK1 – Asteroid 2015 AK1 will pass by Earth on January 15. During its close approach, it will come as close as 6 million kilometers to the planet’s surface. With a width of nearly 170 feet, the space rock is speeding towards Earth at 47608 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2021 CZ2 – Asteroid 2021 CZ2, with a width of nearly 370 feet, will pass Earth on January 16. According to NASA, this asteroid is travelling at almost 51636 kilometers per hour and will pass the planet at a distance of 3 million kilometers. (Pixabay )
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Asteroid 2021 CZ2 belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, as per NASA. (Pixabay)

NASA says asteroids are ancient space rocks left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. While most space rocks are located in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, they can also come close to Earth on some occasions, potentially posing a threat to the planet. But how does this happen? NASA says that the orbits of asteroids can be changed by Jupiter's massive gravity and by occasional close encounters with planets like Mars or other objects. These accidental encounters can knock asteroids out of the main belt and hurl them into space in all directions across the orbits of the other planets.

With the help of its advanced space and ground-based telescopes, NASA has now revealed that an asteroid is expected to pass Earth by a close margin today, January 16. Know the details of this close encounter.

Asteroid 2021 CZ2: Details of close approach

On a few occasions, the orbits of these asteroids bring them close to Earth, a phenomenon known as a ‘Close approach'. According to NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, an asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2021 CZ2, is on its way towards Earth and could pass Earth at a very close distance today, January 16. 

As per the details, Asteroid 2021 CZ2 is expected to pass Earth by a distance of 3 million kilometers. It is already hurtling in its orbit at a speed of about 51636 kilometers per hour, which is much faster than an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)! In terms of size, this asteroid is almost 350 feet wide, which is almost as big as a building!

NASA has revealed that Asteroid 2021 CZ2 belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, which are Earth-crossing Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) with semi-major axes smaller than Earth's. They are named after the asteroid 2062 Aten and the first of its kind was discovered by American astronomer Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory on January 7, 1976.

Shockingly, this will not be Asteroid 2021 CZ2's first-ever close approach to Earth. It passed Earth for the first time ever on January 29, 1910, when it flew past the planet at a distance of 65 million kilometers. After today, this space rock will again pass the planet this year on July 13, at a distance of 72 million kilometers.

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First Published Date: 16 Jan, 13:28 IST