NASA says a newly discovered “potentially dangerous” asteroid the size of the world’s tallest skyscraper is set to pass Earth just in time for Halloween.
The asteroid, called 2022 RM4, has an estimated diameter of between 1,083 and 2,428 feet (330 and 740 meters) – just below the height of Dubai’s 2,716-foot (828 m) tall Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. world. It will pass our planet at about 52,500 mph (84,500 km/h), or about 68 times the speed of sound, according to NASA. (opens in a new tab).
At its closest approach on November 1, the asteroid will be about 1.43 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) from Earthabout six times the average distance between Earth and the moon. By cosmic standards, this is a very thin margin.
Related: Why do asteroids and comets have such strange shapes? (opens in a new tab)
NASA flags any space object that is within 120 million miles (193 million km) of Earth as a “Near-Earth Object” and classifies any large body within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million km) from our planet as “potentially dangerous”. Once flagged, these potential threats are watched closely by astronomers, who study them with radar to detect any deviations from their predicted paths that could put them on a devastating collision course with Earth.
No danger, but the newly discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass within 6 lunar distances on November 1. Perhaps as wide as 740 meters, it will illuminate up to mag 14.3, well within reach of backyard telescopes. @unistellar That’s very close for an asteroid this size. #2022RM4 pic.twitter.com/Z8khblg3GqOctober 5, 2022
NASA tracks the locations and orbits of about 28,000 asteroids, locating them with the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) – a network of four telescopes capable of performing a total scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours.
Since going live in 2017, ATLAS has spotted more than 700 near-Earth asteroids and 66 comets. Two of the asteroids detected by ATLAS, 2019 MO and 2018 LA, actually hit Earth, with the first exploding off the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the second crashing near the Botswana-South Africa border. South. Fortunately, these asteroids were small and caused no damage.
NASA has estimated the trajectories of all near-Earth objects beyond the end of the century. The good news is that Earth faces no known danger of an apocalyptic asteroid collision for at least the next 100 years, according to NASA. (opens in a new tab).
Related: 8 ways to stop an asteroid: nukes, paint and Bruce Willis
But that doesn’t mean astronomers think they should stop looking. While the majority of near-Earth objects don’t end civilization, like the planet-destroying comet in the 2021 satirical disaster film “Don’t Look Up,” there are plenty of devastating impacts from asteroids in recent history to warrant continued vigilance.
For example, in March 2021, a bowling ball-sized meteor exploded over Vermont. (opens in a new tab) with the force of 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of TNT. In 2013, a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere above the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia generated an explosion roughly equal to about 400 to 500 kilotons of TNT, or 26 to 33 times the energy released by the Hiroshima bomb. (opens in a new tab). In the 2013 explosion, balls of fire slammed into the city and surrounding areas, damaging buildings, smashing windows and injuring around 1,500 people.
If astronomers were ever to spy on a dangerous asteroid heading our way, space agencies around the world are already working on possible ways to deflect it. On September 26, the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft redirected the non-dangerous asteroid Dimorphos by deflecting it from its trajectory. (opens in a new tab)altering the asteroid’s orbit by 32 minutes in the first test of Earth’s planetary defense system.
China has also offered (opens in a new tab) he is in the early stages of planning an asteroid redirect mission. By launching 23 Long March 5 rockets at asteroid Bennu, which is expected to swing within 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) of Earth’s orbit between the years 2175 and 2199, the country hopes to divert space rock from a potentially catastrophic impact with our planet.
Originally posted on Live Science.
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