Monstrous 4000 ft asteroid heading for Earth; NASA dubs it potentially hazardous
A giant asteroid of up to 1.3 kilometers or 4,265 feet in diameter is likely to make a relatively close approach to Earth next month. The asteroid, named, 138971 (2001 CB21), is estimated to be potentially four times the size of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Spacereference.org has reported that the asteroid 2001 CB21 will pass by Earth on March 4 at about 3:00 a.m. ET. It is estimated to travel at over 26,800 miles per hour. The asteroid is classified as "potentially hazardous" by NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), however, it doesn’t seem to be posing any danger of hitting us in the near future unless something drastic happens to make it change its course.
While the asteroid has been dubbed potentially hazardous by NASA, it will actually be over three million miles away, which is more than 10 times farther than the moon’s distance from earth. However, on cosmic scale, this kind of a distance is not considered as being big in any way.
Earlier, on January 30, an image of the 2001 CB21 was captured via an Earth-based telescope by Gianluca Masi, an astronomer at the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy. At that time, it was more than 21.5 million miles away from Earth.
As per the report, 2001 CB21 makes an orbit around the sun once every 384 days, which is almost similar to Earth's own orbital period. Its large size makes it bigger than around 97 percent of known asteroids, however, it’s small compared to large asteroids, very roughly comparable in size to the Golden Gate Bridge.
According to CNEOS, the asteroids are classified as "potentially hazardous" based on their potential to make "threatening close approaches" to Earth. Notably, the asteroid smaller than about 500 feet in diameter can't get closer to us than around 4.6 million miles, and hence, it will not come in the potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) category.
Last month, another PH asteroid namely 1994 PC1 flew past Earth at a distance of around 1.2 million miles.
Meanwhile, NASA is working on asteroid defence projects like the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) to prevent humanity from asteroid strike. As the name suggests, a NASA spacecraft will attempt to divert an asteroid from its course deep in space. The success of this experiment will be a big positive for scientists in their quest to find a viable solution in case an asteroid is found that will actually crash into the earth. Asteroid crashes have happened many times in earth's history and is blamed for the extinction of dinosaurs.