Close encounter with an asteroid soon! NASA tracks space rock rushing towards Earth

A house-sized asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and it is expected to pass by the planet at very close quarters. Check the details of this close encounter.

| Updated on: Aug 30 2023, 10:06 IST
NASA satellites track 5 asteroids hurtling towards Earth! Check speed, distance and more
1/5 Asteroid 2023 QD2 - Asteroid 2023 QD2, is currently heading towards Earth and will pass closely by Earth today, August 29. The asteroid has a width of almost 46 feet. It is travelling at a speed of 27970 kilometers per hour and will make its closest approach at 1.2 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2023 QK5 – Asteroid 2023 QK5, which is nearly 36 feet wide, is heading for Earth and will also make its closest approach to Earth today, August 29. This space rock is moving at a blistering speed of 24522 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a close distance of 1.5 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2012 PZ17 – Asteroid 2012 PZ17 will make its closest approach to Earth on August 30. In terms of size, it is almost 50 feet wide. As per NASA, Asteroid 2012 PZ17 will come as close as 6.4 million kilometers and is already moving at a breakneck speed of 12895 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2023 QH – Asteroid 2023 QH will make its closest approach to the planet on August 31. The asteroid, with a width of 200 feet, will approach Earth at a distance of 4.6 million kilometers and a staggering speed of nearly 57259 kilometers per hour. (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2023 QB2 – Asteroid 2023 QB2, with a width of 59 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth on September 1. The space rock is already rushing towards Earth at a speed of 25794 kilometers per hour and will miss the planet by a distance of about 3.1 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
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Asteroid 2012 PZ17 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. (Pixabay)

Over the course of Earth's 4.5 billion-year-old history, there have been numerous instances where asteroids have struck the planet. One of the most consequential impacts occurred around 65 million years ago when a large asteroid struck Earth in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This impact obliterated nearly 70 percent of Earth's species including dinosaurs. Other asteroid impacts include the 2-billion-year-old Vredefort crater, 1.8-billion-year-old Sudbury basin impact, and 500-million-year-old Clearwater Lakes craters.

In a separate development, NASA has issued details about an asteroid that is set to pass by Earth closely today, August 30.

Asteroid 2012 PZ17: Details

This Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, August 30. Whilst this space rock will come very close to the planet, it is not expected to impact the surface and leave a crater in its wake. According to NASA, Asteroid 2012 PZ17 will pass by Earth at a distance of around 6.4 million kilometers.

It is already on its way toward the planet, travelling at a blistering speed of 12895 kilometers per hour. While this asteroid will pass Earth by a very close margin, it is not big enough to be called a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. According to NASA, Asteroid 2012 PZ17 is just 50 feet wide, making it almost as big as a house.

The space agency has also revealed that Asteroid 2023 NP 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.

About the dinosaur-killing asteroid

The Alvarez hypothesis, proposed by father and son duo Luis and Walter Alvarez in 1980, states that an asteroid struck Earth more than 65 million years ago and kicked off the extinction of dinosaurs. Although its impact crater has been presumed to be in Mexico, new light has now been shed on how it reached Earth. According to the English physicist Brian Cox, the asteroid, which formed a 140-kilometer impact crater, was thrown off its course by Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System.

“It is highly likely or possible that it was deflected into a collision course with Earth by Jupiter,” Cox said, highlighting that Jupiter is so big it has become the creator and destroyer of worlds.

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First Published Date: 30 Aug, 09:47 IST
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