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.
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.
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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