Earth escapes 380 metre asteroid just days after it was discovered by NASA | Tech News

Earth escapes 380 metre asteroid just days after it was discovered by NASA

An asteroid missed the Earth recently, just a few days after its discovery by NASA. The last minute discovery of the asteroid means that NASA or any space agency had virtually no time to deflect or destroy it if it had headed straight for earth.

| Updated on: Aug 06 2022, 13:13 IST
What is an Asteroid? NASA defines what these dangerous objects in sky are
1/5 An asteroid is a small, rocky object hurtling through the sky. When seen in a telescope, an asteroid appears as a point of light, according to NASA. Most asteroids are found in a ring between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter called the asteroid belt. (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroids have several shapes, they may be spherical, elongated, or oddly shaped. Some asteroids even have their own satellites! Asteroids also vary in size. From Vesta, the largest at about 530 kilometers in diameter, to asteroids that are less than 10 meters in diameter, they can be found in all shapes and sizes. (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroids are also called minor planets. These celestial objects are the remains of the period during which our solar system formed, over 4.6 billion years ago. According to NASA, the current known asteroid count is 1,113,527. (HT_PRINT)
4/5 Asteroids can potentially threaten life on Earth. Apocalyptic movies like Deep Impact, Armageddon and Don't Look Up have always explored the ‘What Ifs’ of world destruction, with the most famous means of world destruction being asteroids crashing into Earth. (Pixabay)
5/5 To counter this, NASA had readied itself to potentially defend the planet against a very similar threat that is posed by asteroids by preparing the DART mission. It involves smashing a spacecraft into an oncoming asteroid at a speed of nearly 23,000kph. This knowledge will be used if an actual asteroid threatens to crash against the Earth. It will help avert an Armageddon on Earth and perhaps, even save humanity from extinction. (NASA)
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How does NASA keep a track of dangerous asteroids? Check here. (Flickr)

Earth escaped a giant asteroid by a wafer thin margin! This giant asteroid, known as Asteroid 2022 OE2 was recently spotted by NASA for the first time and within a few days, it made its closest approach to the Earth. The last minute discovery of the asteroid means that NASA or any space agency had virtually no time to deflect or destroy it if it had headed straight for Earth. The asteroid passed at a distance of just 3.2 million miles away from the Earth. It is equal to 10 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Around 380 meters wide in diameter, this huge asteroid made its closest approach to Earth on August 4. It is one of the 15,000 Apollo-class asteroids, which orbit around the Sun in such a way that they cross our orbit.

The interesting fact is that it was found only a few ago on July 26! That means, in less than two weeks from its first appearance, the asteroid marked the close approach to the Earth. However, NASA keeps an eye on all the near-Earth objects in space to detect any potential harm from the celestial objects in advance. This way, NASA tracks thousands of such near-Earth objects, but many remain unknown! According to the space agency, there are less than half of the 25,00 NEOs that are larger than 140 meters and are yet to be found in the depth of space! The small size of asteroids can often make the task difficult.

NASA mentioned, "Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that bring them to within 120 million miles of the Sun, which means they can circulate through the Earth's orbital neighborhood. Most near-Earth objects are asteroids that range in size from about 10 feet (a few meters) to nearly 25 miles across.”

Still, there is always a minor chance of an asteroid strike, in case it deviates from its orbit! To avoid any mishap NASA and other space agencies have launched planetary protection programmes in an attempt to limit those risks. They have even included a major space mission to test any possible response such as NASA's Dart mission. It will crash into an asteroid to understand it is possible to change the path of any unpredictable hazardous asteroid which may pose a risk to Earth.

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First Published Date: 06 Aug, 13:13 IST