NASA says giant asteroid just flew past Earth

A large asteroid namely, Asteroid 2017 XC62 shot past Earth at 9,500 miles per hour on January 24.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 23:48 IST
According to NASA Asteroid 2017 XC62 is upto 623 feet wide.
According to NASA Asteroid 2017 XC62 is upto 623 feet wide. (NASA)
According to NASA Asteroid 2017 XC62 is upto 623 feet wide.
According to NASA Asteroid 2017 XC62 is upto 623 feet wide. (NASA)

A huge asteroid shot past Earth from a very close distance on Monday, January 24. Named “Asteroid 2017 XC62″, the near-earth asteroid (NEA) is about 623 feet wide, says NASA - over twice the size of the Statue of Liberty. The problem with asteroids is that they are extremely destructive missiles wandering around space. As the pock-marked face of the moon shows, the impacts are many. Asteroids and comets have crashed into Earth too and this can happen again. While most asteroids will miss Earth, the danger remains and that is where it becomes important for space agencies like NASA to track each and every flying object that is big enough to worry humanity. The large space rock, also considered a 'near Earth object' (NEO), that shot past Earth was flying at an incredible 9,500 miles per hour. However, the good news is it stayed a distance of 4.4 million miles away from our planet. In space terms that is not very far away. Just a nudge by some force can send it careening towards Earth. Another good news is that NASA is preparing for an eventuality where an asteroid may be heading straight for the Earth. This is via the DART mission.

Anything passing near Earth's orbit is classified as a Near-Earth Object and NASA has been monitoring thousands of NEOs to know whether they can collide with Earth. According to the space organization, any fast-moving space object that comes within 4.65 million miles from Earth is "potentially hazardous" as one small change to their trajectories can lead to disaster on Earth.

While some experts are worried that Earth isn't yet ready to defend itself from potentially deadly asteroids, NASA is looking into some defense methods. Recently, it launched the first-ever Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission to study and demonstrate a method of asteroid deflection by changing its direction in space away from Earth by using kinetic impact. NASA, in its blog post, mentioned that the DART spacecraft will be directed to crash into the smaller moonlet of the binary asteroid Didymos. Dart is a part of NASA's larger planetary defense strategy that would test and validate a method to protect Earth in case of an asteroid impact threat.

The DART spacecraft was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket out of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California in November 2021. It was designed to impact an asteroid as a test of technology.

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First Published Date: 26 Jan, 13:29 IST