Colossal 460-foot asteroid to buzz Earth today; NASA reveals what makes it special

NASA is on alert as it expects a colossal asteroid to make a close approach to Earth today. Know what makes this asteroid special, as per NASA.

| Updated on: Feb 03 2023, 11:34 IST
NASA warns of 5 asteroids rushing towards Earth; biggest is a 210-foot monster
1/5 Asteroid 2023 BA4 - NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 BA4. The asteroid is expected to fly past Earth closely today, January 31, at a distance of 6.7 million kilometers. According to NASA, the asteroid is gigantic with a size 140 feet across. This space rock is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 28291 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2023 BQ2 - A relatively small asteroid with a size of 54 feet will fly past Earth by a very close margin today, January 31. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2023 BQ2, will make its closest approach with the planet at a distance of 2.1 million kilometers. The asteroid is travelling towards the planet at a blistering speed of 50122 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2023 AS1 – Another asteroid named 2023 AS1 will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 31, at a distance of 4.5 million kilometers. The asteroid, with a width of 78 feet, is travelling at a staggering speed of 22272 kilometers per hour towards the planet.  (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2023 BP6 - NASA has issued an alert against another asteroid named Asteroid 2023 BP6. According to NASA, it is the largest asteroid of the week with a width of nearly 210 feet. It is expected to fly past Earth closely tomorrow, February 1, at a distance of 2.6 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a speedy 35059 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2017 DU34 - The fifth asteroid which is set to make a close approach is named Asteroid 2017 DU34 is heading for Earth and is expected to pass by the planet closely on February 2. Asteroid 2017 DU34 is already on its way towards us travelling at a fearsome speed of 40160 kilometers per hour. The asteroid, with a width of 49 feet, will make its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 5.08 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
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Asteroid 2011 AG5 is nearly the size of a skyscraper, as per NASA. (WikiMedia Commons)

Although smaller asteroids make close approaches with Earth nearly every day, bigger asteroids seldom do so. Even when asteroids come close to Earth, they do so safely or most of them burn up in the planet's atmosphere itself. However, things have changed now. An asteroid named Asteroid 2011 AG5 has been receiving a lot of attention lately from space agencies around the world as it is all set to make a close approach with Earth today. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and determines their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

But what makes Asteroid 2011 AG5 special? Here's what NASA revealed.

Asteroid 2011 AG5

Asteroid 2011 AG5 was discovered on 8 January 2011 by astronomers using a 60-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope located at the top of Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains in Arizona. That means astronomers and scientists have known and studied this asteroid for more than a decade. What's shocking about this asteroid is its gigantic size, which means it is nearly the size of a skyscraper!

It is approximately 460 feet in size and its orbit carries it as far out as beyond Mars' orbit and as close to the sun as halfway between Earth and Venus, according to NASA.

NASA has warned that this space rock will make its closest approach to Earth today, February 3, at just 1.8 million kilometers (about 1118468.15 mi). Although the distance might seem a lot, it is relatively a small number in astronomical distances, considering how big the asteroid is. Shockingly, this asteroid is speeding towards us at a mind-numbing 35706 kmph (about 22186.68 mph).

Did you know?

One asteroid that NASA is studying up close, called Bennu, has a 1/2700 chance of impacting Earth between 2175 and 2195. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will complete a 2-year investigation of Bennu before plucking a sample of asteroid material off its surface and delivering it back to Earth. Along with collecting a sample, OSIRIS-REx will also be studying how light absorbed from the Sun and re-radiated by Bennu affects its orbit—and consequently, how that orbit could become more dangerous for Earth.

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First Published Date: 03 Feb, 11:08 IST
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