NASA warns of 89-foot asteroid dashing towards Earth; close approach soon

A menacing asteroid is hurtling towards Earth right now and it will pass the planet today, May 17. Here’s what we know about the asteroid.

| Updated on: May 18 2023, 09:53 IST
Asteroid 2023 JW3
Asteroid 2023 JW3 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. (Pixabay)
Asteroid 2023 JW3
Asteroid 2023 JW3 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. (Pixabay)

Despite asteroids making close approaches to Earth almost every day, not all of them pose a threat to Earth. So, how does NASA know which ones could emerge as big threats? Well, NASA classifies asteroids as Potentially Hazardous if they come within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth and have a size bigger than 150 meters. Although these space rocks are in their own orbits in space, a slight deflection in the asteroid's trajectory due to interaction with Earth's gravitational field can send it tumbling towards Earth. To keep a constant track, NASA uses its Earth-based and space-based assets including satellites, telescopes, and observatories.

NASA has now revealed that another asteroid is on its way to Earth. So, how close will this space rock pass by, and how fast is it going?

Asteroid 2023 JW3 details

NASA has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 JW3. This asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today, May 17. Its distance of close approach will be approximately 3.2 million kilometers. NASA further revealed that the asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 29185 kilometers per hour.

Asteroid 2023 JW3 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids which are a group of Near-Earth asteroids named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s. In terms of size, the asteroid is almost 89 feet across, which makes it the same size as an aircraft!

How does NASA calculate asteroid's orbit?

NASA uses various computers to calculate an asteroid's orbit by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object using various space and ground-based telescopes such as NASA's NEOWISE telescope and its brand-new Sentry II algorithm.

That is, the object's computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was observed to be at those same times.

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First Published Date: 18 May, 09:53 IST