NASA says 110-foot wide asteroid is zooming towards Earth today! Danger looming?
With asteroids constantly moving past the Earth, the threat of an asteroid strike is not really that far-fetched. This risk grows significantly higher whenever a large asteroid makes its way towards the planet. NASA has reported that a 110-foot wide asteroid will be making its close approach to our planet. Worryingly, this asteroid is large enough to flatten an entire city and if it were to get pulled in by Earth's gravity, it could spell a major disaster for us. But there are ways for us to know what the chance of an asteroid strike is. And it goes through a wing of NASA called the Planetary Defense.
The Planetary Defense of NASA is made up of multiple departments, all of which are tasked with monitoring the Near-Earth Objects (NEO). These departments include Center for Near Earth Objects Studies (CNEOS), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Small-Body database. The cumulative data from these departments has revealed quite a bit about this space rock. The asteroid approaching the Earth is called 2022 TB1. Amazingly, it was first discovered just a few day ago on October 3, 2022. This asteroid is likely to come as close as 4.4 million kilometers to the Earth. Traveling at the speed of 27,072 kilometers per hour, the space rock is capable of closing the distance in days if not hours, if an unexpected deflection pushes it towards our planet.
However, the current prediction by NASA is that the chances of an asteroid tsrike on the Earth are slim. It is expected that the asteroid will make a safe passage. However, various instruments will be monitoring it till it is at a safe distance from us.
The tech that guards our planet
While multiple ground-based and satellite telescopes observe the asteroids, it is not possible to manually assess over 20,000 NEOs for a risk of strike. That's why JPL uses a system called Horizons. It is an online solar system data and ephemeris computation service that provides a highly accurate analysis and prediction models for not only NEOs but also 1,239,706 asteroids, 3,829 comets, 211 planetary satellites, 8 planets, the Sun, L1, L2, select spacecraft, and system barycenters.