NASA tracking bus-sized asteroid whose orbit will bring it close to Earth today

An asteroid known as Asteroid 2023 PH1 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, August 16. Know details such as its speed, distance, size, and more, as per NASA.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Aug 16 2023, 11:12 IST
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Asteroid 2023 PZ approaching Earth for a close approach, says NASA
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1/5 Asteroid 2020 PP1 - Asteroid 2020 PP1, is currently heading towards Earth and will get very close to Earth tomorrow, July 28. The asteroid is nearly the size of a house with a width of 52 feet. It is travelling at almost 14641 kilometers per hour and will make its closest approach at 6.5 million kilometers. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) reports that asteroid 2023 PZ will make its closest approach to Earth on August 17, 2023, at a speed of 5639 kilometres per hour.
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3/5 NASA's asteroid data tracker suggests that asteroid 2023 PZ is expected to come as close as 522,000 KM to the Earth. (Pixabay)
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4/5 In terms of size, the asteroid is 18 feet long. This asteroid is a Near-Earth object belonging to the Aten group. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The asteroid does not pose any threat to Earth, according to NASA. Despite this, NASA will continue to monitor the asteroid till it passes safely by the Earth.
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Asteroid 2023 PH1 belongs to the Aten group of asteroids. (Pixabay)

Over the past few years, the advance in scientific research has shed light on dinosaurs, and how these mammoth creatures went extinct. The theory, known as the Alvarez hypothesis, claims that an asteroid struck Earth nearly 65 million years ago and wiped out entire species of dinosaurs. This theory is backed by some proof too as scientists have also discovered its impact crater, known as the Chicxulub crater, buried under the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. As per the hypothesis, the impact of the asteroid would have caused the formation of huge tidal waves and an impact crater almost 140 km wide. Land material would have splattered into space, changing the Earth into a nuclear winter-like environment and ultimately, it would lead to the demise of dinosaurs and many other species.

While incidents like that happen infrequently, dangerous asteroids, big and small, keep visiting Earth and they do pose a threat sometimes. Now, NASA's Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which is responsible for monitoring the skies and keeping a watch on various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), has issued a warning against an asteroid that will pass Earth closely today.

Asteroid 2023 PH1

NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has designated this space rock as Asteroid 2023 PH1. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth today, August 16, at a distance of just 2 million kilometers. Shockingly, it is already rushing towards Earth in its orbit, traveling at a speed of about 21538 kilometers per hour, which is just shy of the speed of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)!

Asteroid 2023 PH1 belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, which are Earth-crossing Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) with semi-major axes smaller than Earth's. They are named after the asteroid 2062 Aten and the first of its kind was discovered by American astronomer Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory on January 7, 1976. These asteroids have an orbital period of less than one year and spend most of their time hidden by the Sun.

NASA has also revealed details about the asteroid's size. It is not nearly big enough to cause any potential damage and certainly not big enough to be known as a planet killer. Thus, it is safe to say that Asteroid 2023 PH1 is not expected to crash against the Earth. With a width of almost 31 feet, the asteroid is the size of a bus.

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First Published Date: 16 Aug, 10:13 IST
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