NASA satellites track 150-foot Apollo group asteroid hurtling towards Earth

NASA has tracked Asteroid 2016 AW65 hurtling towards Earth, and it could have a close encounter with the planet as soon as today.

| Updated on: Jul 31 2023, 07:46 IST
The largest planet in the Universe? Meet ROXs 42 Bb
1/6 ROXs 42 Bb is the largest planet in the Universe and it has an even larger mass than Jupiter.(image: Jupiter) (NASA)
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2/6 ROXs 42 Bb is a gas giant exoplanet that orbits an M-type star. Its mass is 9 times of Jupiter’s. (Image: Jupiter) (NASA)
3/6 According to NASA, ROXs 42 Bb has a radius that’s estimated to be 1.12 times that of Jupiter’s. (Illustrative Image: Jupiter) (NASA)
4/6  It takes 1968.3 years to complete one orbit of its star, says NASA. [ Representational Image: Jupiter] ( NASA/JPL/SwRI)
5/6 The planet's discovery was announced October 17, 2013 by University of Toronto astronomer Thayne Currie.(Image: Jupiter)  (NASA)
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6/6 With the new detail and discoveries of galaxies and the universe going on at the current rate, possibilities are there that the scientists could find new planets even bigger than ROXs 42 Bb.(Image: Jupiter) (NASA Juno)
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Asteroid 2016 AW65 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. (Pixabay)

Asteroids have their orbits which sometimes bring them close to Earth, but can they threaten the planet? Well, NASA certainly thinks so. Throughout history, there have been several asteroid impacts, ranging from the Chelyabinsk asteroid to the Chicxulub crater where the dinosaur-killing asteroid reportedly crashed. Recently, a space rock even hit a woman in the chest in France! NASA's Dr. Kelly E. Fast says, “Asteroids have hit Earth throughout its history, and it will happen again.”

Thus, studying these space rocks becomes imperative to minimize the uncertainties around their close approaches. NASA, with the help of its advanced ground and space-based telescopes, has tracked an asteroid whose orbit will bring it very close to Earth soon.

Asteroid 2016 AW65

According to the details published by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), an asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2016 AW65, is on its way toward Earth and could make its closest approach to the planet today, July 31.

As per the details, Asteroid 2016 AW65 is expected to make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of just 6.3 million kilometers, and at a speed of 20583 kilometers per hour which is much faster than Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)!

Is it dangerous?

According to NASA, the asteroid that is approaching Earth isn't big enough to be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object, and it is not expected to hit the surface. However, it still poses a potential threat to the planet, especially if it impacts in a densely populated area. In terms of size, Asteroid 2016 AW65 is nearly 150 feet wide, which is three times larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor which caused destruction in Russia in 2013!

Other details

It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth's. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.

According to NASA, the asteroid made its first-ever close approach to Earth on August 2, 1916, at a distance of 4.4 million kilometers and the last time it came close to the planet was on August 2, 1982, when it passed by 5.5 million kilometers.

After today, Asteroid 2016 AW65 will make its next close approach on August 1, 2048, when it will come as close as 5.3 million kilometers to Earth.

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First Published Date: 31 Jul, 07:44 IST
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