Danger! 80-foot asteroid hurtling towards Earth today, Sept 20; collision possible?

A huge asteroid will come terrifyingly close to Earth in a close encounter today. This asteroid has got NASA on alert. Will there be an asteroid collision with Earth?

| Updated on: Sep 20 2022, 10:38 IST
Asteroid fun facts in pics: NASA reveals all you need to know
1/5 Space is full of objects, out of which only a few have been discovered. Asteroids are some of these objects. If you are not aware about the dangerous objects called asteroids, here are some facts you should know. First, did you know that asteroids are sometimes called minor planets? Well, they are. (Pixabay)
2/5 Differences between an Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite: According to the information provided by NASA, Asteroid is a relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun. Comet is a relatively small, at times active, object whose ice can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas. Meteoroid is a small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun. Meteor is the light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes, in short, a shooting star. While, Meteorite is a meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface. (NASA)
3/5 Asteroid: Size, frequency and impact- More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday, according to NASA. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (NASA)
4/5 How is an Asteroid Orbit Calculated? An asteroid's orbit is computed by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object. That is, the object's computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same times. (Pixabay)
5/5 What is NASA doing to find and learn more about potentially hazardous asteroids and comets? NASA has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The PDCO ensures the early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) - asteroids and comets whose orbits are predicted to bring them within 0.05 Astronomical Units of Earth (5 million miles or 8 million kilometers) and of a size large enough to reach Earth's surface - that is, greater than approximately 30 to 50 meters. NASA tracks and characterizes these objects and issues warnings about potential impacts, providing timely and accurate information. NASA also leads the coordination of U.S. Government planning for response to an actual impact threat. (AFP)
icon View all Images
NASA has been put on alert because of this 80-foot asteroid which is set to fly closely past the planet today. (HT_PRINT)

Astonishingly, asteroids are rocky remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. They come in all shapes and sizes, with the largest asteroid measured at a humongous 530 kilometers in diameter called Vesta. Asteroids can impact Earth and cause major damage to both life and property, with the most recent incident being the Chelyabinsk disaster when the space rock entered Earth's atmosphere over the southern Ural region in Russia on February 15, 2013 and caused damage worth nearly $33 million. But will this upcoming asteroid impact the planet and cause damage to life or limb? All of this information is being calculated live through various technologies employed by NASA and that is where we get to know about it.

Asteroid 2022 SC1 to whizz past Earth today, September 20

An 80-foot wide asteroid named Asteroid 2022 SC1 is expected to zoom past Earth tomorrow, August 31. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 36,936 kilometers per hour. The Asteroid 2022 SC1 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today September 20, at a distance of 5.5 million kilometers. Remarkably, after today, this asteroid is not expected to make another close approach to Earth till the next century!

Although this asteroid is not expected to collide with Earth, a slight deviation in its trajectory due to the Earth's gravitational pull, or some other reason, can send the asteroid hurtling towards Earth and a collision may ensue. Though you should not be worried as NASA already has a plan in motion to engage in planetary defense against rogue asteroids called the DART Mission.

NASA DART Mission - All about the tech

A NASA mission is in the works to deflect an asteroid off the collision course with Earth by smashing a simple but technologically awesome spacecraft into it at a staggering speed of 23,000 kmph. In effect, the tech has turned the spacecraft not just into a satellite beaming data, but also a destructive missile. The mission is named Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART. Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART Mission is a $240 million mission by NASA to protect the Earth from a potential asteroid impact.

The camera on the spacecraft is a marvel in itself. NASA's Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO) took pictures of the target asteroid in July using 243 composite images.

Notably, after the collision, another specialised and tech-enabled spacecraft, the European Space Agency's Hera spacecraft, will fly to the asteroid to survey the consequences of the impact and gather information such as the size of impact crater, the mass of the asteroid and its make-up and internal structure using its CubeSAT satellite to conduct a radar probe of the asteroid.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Whatsapp channel,Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 20 Sep, 10:38 IST