NASA spots asteroid rushing towards Earth at the speed of a missile

With the help of its sky map and telescopes, NASA has issued an alert about an oncoming asteroid.

| Updated on: Dec 14 2022, 10:30 IST
270-foot monster, 4 other asteroids heading for Earth! Check details here
1/5 Asteroid 2003 YS70 - NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2003 YS70. This 17 feet wide asteroid is expected to fly past Earth tomorrow December 13, at a distance of 4 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 14818 kilometers per hour!  (Pixabay)
2/5 Asteroid 2019 XQ1 - NASA has red-flagged another 92-foot asteroid named Asteroid 2019 XQ1 due to its extremely close approach to the planet. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow December 13, at a distance of 5.5 million kilometers. NASA has warned that the space rock is already on its way towards the planet travelling at a speed of nearly 35238 kilometers per hour!   (Pixabay)
3/5 Asteroid 2018 XU3 – This gigantic asteroid is 88 feet wide, which is nearly the size of an aircraft! It will make its close trip to Earth tomorrow, December 13, at a distance of nearly 5.6 million kilometers. The asteroid, known as Asteroid 2018 XU3, is already speeding towards Earth faster than a bullet, travelling at a speed of 37149 kilometers per hour.  (Pixabay)
4/5 Asteroid 2021 XS4 – NASA has warned that an asteroid named Asteroid 2021 XS4 is heading for Earth on December 14. This asteroid, with a size of nearly 71 feet, is heading for Earth at a blistering speed of 34936 kilometers per hour. It will miss Earth at a distance of 5.5 million kilometers.  (Pixabay)
5/5 Asteroid 2015 RN35 – This week’s fifth and the largest asteroid, a 270-foot monster asteroid named 2015 RN35 will be making its closest Earth approach on December 15. It will come as close as 686,000 kilometers, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). And this is not all, this skyscraper-sized asteroid is also moving at a mind-numbing speed of 21276 kilometer per hour!  (Pixabay)
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Know what NASA says about Asteroid 2022 XY. (Pixabay)

NASA's NEOWISE or Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer completes its trip around the Sun every 12 months. The spacecraft takes images throughout the journey which are stitched together to form a sky-map. This sky-map shows the positions and the brightness of millions of celestial objects in space, according to NASA. NEOWISE also helps scientists keep an eye out for any asteroids which might have the potential of Earth impact. Now, NASA has issued a warning about an oncoming asteroid which could make its closest approach as soon as today.

Asteroid 2022 XY details

NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 XY. The 85 feet wide asteroid, which is nearly the size of an aircraft, is expected to fly past Earth closely today, December 14, at a distance of 4.3 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 15799 kilometers per hour, matching the speed of a hypersonic ballistic missile!

Although this asteroid is not expected to impact Earth any time soon, a slight deviation in the asteroid's path due to interaction with the planet's gravitational field could change its trajectory and send it hurtling towards the planet with catastrophic consequences.

Most of these asteroids are observed with the help of the NEOWISE Project which repurposed NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer to work as a survey telescope and scan the sky for Near-Earth Objects. NASA then uses its ground-based radar to gather precise data about the asteroid's path and its characteristics.

More about NASA's sky-map

As of now, NASA has stitched 18 sky maps together using the images captured by the NEOWISE, with 19th and 20th maps to be released around March 2023. With the help of these maps, NASA scientists have created a time-lapse of the sky, showing the changes in position of numerous celestial objects, spanning across the last decade.

This move will help in better understanding of our Universe and enable scientists to study the changes in positions and brightness of space objects in the last decade. This is called Time-Domain Astronomy.

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First Published Date: 14 Dec, 10:18 IST
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