Asteroid to have a shockingly close encounter with Earth TODAY! Is it dangerous?

Yet another asteroid flyby is imminent as an aircraft-sized space rock has been tracked hurtling towards Earth at breakneck speed. Know details of this close encounter.

| Updated on: Jul 18 2023, 10:25 IST
Ahead of its launch, know the amazing tech stack of Chandrayaan-3
Asteroid 2020 UQ3
1/5 The highly anticipated Chandrayaan-3 mission, marking India's third lunar expedition, is scheduled to commence today, July 14th, at 2:35 pm. This mission will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, utilizing the advanced Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3). (ISRO)
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2/5 Chandrayaan-3 serves as a successor to the Chandrayaan-2 mission and aims to showcase the complete capability of safe landing and rover exploration on the lunar surface. This mission comprises a Lander and Rover, who have retained their names from the previous mission and are called Vikram and Pragyan respectively and will be launched from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota, using the LVM3 rocket. (ISRO)
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3/5 The propulsion module will transport the lander and rover configuration to a lunar orbit of 100 km. The propulsion module also includes the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload, which is designed to conduct spectral and polarimetric measurements of Earth from the lunar orbit.  (ISRO)
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4/5 The mission objectives of Chandrayaan-3 include showcasing a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, demonstrating the capability of a rover to navigate and explore the moon, and conducting scientific experiments on-site.  (ISRO)
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5/5 Several advanced technologies are present in Lander for the success of the mission, such as,1-Altimeters: Laser & RF based Altimeters.2-Velocimeters: Laser Doppler Velocimeter & Lander Horizontal Velocity Camera.3-Inertial Measurement: Laser Gyro based Inertial referencing and Accelerometer package.4-Propulsion System: 800N Throttleable Liquid Engines, 58N attitude thrusters & Throttleable Engine Control Electronics.5-Navigation, Guidance & Control (NGC): Powered Descent Trajectory design and associate software elements.6-Hazard Detection and Avoidance: Lander Hazard Detection & Avoidance Camera and Processing Algorithm.7-Landing Leg Mechanism. (ISRO)
Asteroid 2020 UQ3
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Asteroid 2020 UQ3 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. (NASA JPL)

Most of the asteroids are found in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, and they can easily be observed with the help of advanced ground and space-based telescopes. However, scientists have now found 3 elusive asteroids hiding behind the glare of the Sun! According to NASA, one of them is one of the largest, potentially hazardous, objects to be discovered in the last eight years. To find and observe them, a team used the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) mounted on the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile, a Program of NSF's NOIRLab. The region around the Sun is an extremely challenging place to locate celestial objects as astronomers have to deal with the Sun's glare.

While those asteroids are being tracked, NASA has also found an asteroid whose orbit will bring it extremely close to Earth today.

Asteroid 2020 UQ3 details

According to details revealed by NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), this asteroid, designated as Asteroid 2020 UQ3 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, July 18. Its orbit will bring it as close as 1.2 million kilometers near Earth. While this distance might seem a lot, in astronomical terms, it is not much at all. It has been estimated to be travelling at a breakneck speed of 33387 kilometers per hour.

According to NASA, the asteroid that is approaching Earth is not expected to crash. Asteroid 2020 UQ3 is almost 190 feet wide, which is not big enough to be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object. In terms of size, it is nearly 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.

How many asteroids are there?

With the help of advanced satellites and ground-based telescopes such as the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), as many as 1,298,692 asteroids have been discovered to date, of which more than 27,000 are near-Earth asteroids with orbits bringing them closer than 7.5 million kilometers of Earth.

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First Published Date: 18 Jul, 10:12 IST
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