An asteroid the size of a skyscraper will fly past Earth tonight

Witches and ghosts won’t be the only things flying through the sky on Halloween night. There will also be a giant asteroid flying around. 2022 RM4 is a newly discovered asteroid that astronomers say it poses no immediate dangerbut is still considered “potentially hazardous” by NASA.

According to NASA, the giant space rock has an estimated diameter of 1,083 and 2,428 feet (330 and 740 meters). That’s just below the height of the tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 2,716 feet (828 m). It will approach at about 52,500 miles per hour (84,500 kilometers per hour) and will be 1.43 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) away at its closest approach, or approx. six times the average distance between Earth and our moon. That might sound like a lot, but it’s a small difference by cosmic standards.

[Related: NASA’s first attempt to smack an asteroid was picture perfect.]

NASA labels any space object within 120 million miles (193 million kilometers) of the planet as a “near-Earth object.” They also categorize any large body within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million kilometers) of Earth as “potentially hazardous.” Astronomers watch these objects closely and use radar to examine them for signs of a change from their projected paths.

In 2017, NASA released the Asteroid Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) online. ATLAS monitors approximately 28,000 asteroids in space and uses four telescopes to perform a full scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours. ATLAS has observed more than 700 near-Earth asteroids and 66 comets. Two asteroids (2018 LA and 2019 MO) hit Earth in 2018 and 2019 without causing any damage.

With this space mapping technology, NASA has estimated the potential trajectories of all near-Earth objects after the end of this century. According to NASA, Earth faces no known danger of a catastrophic asteroid collision for at least the next 100 years. However, a “planet-killer” asteroid called 2022 AP7 was discovered between Earth and Venus. The asteroid is about 0.9 miles (1.5 kilometers) wide and is the largest potentially hazardous asteroid spotted in eight years. It’s called a “planet killer” because it would wreak havoc on the planet if it ever hit Earth, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. The National Science Foundation (NSF) made the announcement today based on a study first published in The Astronomical Journal in September.

While there is no immediate threat from 2022 AP7, it is possible that “down the line, in the next few thousand years, it could become a problem for our descendants,” according to Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast who was not involved in the study. in an interview with New York Times.

[Related: What NASA’s successful DART mission means for the future of planetary defense.]

Astronomers are also working hard to build better planetary defenses. On September 26, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission successfully changed the orbit of a space rock for the first time. Before DART crashed into asteroid Dimorphos, it took 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit its larger parent asteroid Didymos. Data collected after the mission showed that the impact from the small spacecraft shortened Dimorphos’ orbit around Didymos by 32 minutes, with an uncertainty margin of about plus or minus 2 minutes. Shortening the trajectory of an asteroid system like this could help us deflect a massive space rock if it were to threaten Earth.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is also in the early stages of trying to deflect an asteroid, with a mission planned for 2025. CNSA plans to launch 23 Long March 5 rockets at Bennu, an 85.5-million-ton asteroid that would catastrophic if it ever collided with Earth. In addition, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected samples from Bennu, which will return to Earth in September 2023. NASA’s Lucy spacecraft is exploring the Trojan asteroids near Jupiter. The Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout) is loaded onto NASA’s New Moon rocket awaiting liftoff as part of the Artemis I mission.

Leave a Comment