NASA: Gigantic 18-km wide killer Comet K2 has passed Mars and is now moving towards Earth
Comet C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) has now entered the inner circle of the solar system after crossing Mars and is fast approaching Earth, says NASA. When will it come closest to the Earth and is there a chance of strike? Find out.
Just one week ago, we got the confirmation on when we might be able to see the highly anticipated Comet C.2017 K2 (PanSTARRS), and NASA has revealed that its appearance is on schedule as it has just entered the inner solar system. The comet is bigger than the asteroids that wrought carnage on Earth previously. And now the comet has crossed planet Mars and the next on its visiting list is Earth. The comet, which is on its maiden trip to our solar system, has become an object of both fascination and fear as scientists are puzzled how a comet whose nucleus is 18-kilometers wide can still remain active. The fears largely emerge from wondering what if it were to crash into the Earth. Given that it is larger than the asteroid that killed dinosaurs, if that were to happen, humans won't stand a chance. So, when is it visiting the Earth and do we need to be afraid? Read on.
Comet K2 is approaching the Earth after passing Mars
On June 30, 2022, NASA posted an image of the Comet K2 and stated, “On its maiden voyage to the inner Solar System from the dim and distant Oort cloud, this comet PanSTARRS was initially spotted over five years ago, in May 2017. Then it was the most distant active inbound comet ever found, discovered when it was some 2.4 billion kilometers from the Sun. That puts it between the orbital distances of Uranus and Saturn.
Further explaining its own analysis of the comet, NASA revealed details of the comet as well as the date when it comes closest to the Earth. It added, “Hubble Space Telescope observations indicated the comet had a large nucleus less than 18 kilometers in diameter. Now visible in small telescopes, C/2017 K2 will make its closest approach to planet Earth on July 14 and closest approach to the Sun this December. Its extended coma and developing tail are seen here at a distance of some 290 million kilometers, a mere 16 light-minutes away”.
At this moment, it is expected that the comet will make a safe flyby, however scientists are keeping an eye out for any changes in the trajectory. The astronomy enthusiasts can watch this comet fly past the Earth on July 14. It will not be visible to the naked eye, but amateur telescopes will work just fine.