A huge asteroid the size of London’s Big Ben will fly past Earth tomorrow at breakneck speeds of up to 49,000 miles per hour, NASA says.
- NASA has reported that a huge asteroid will approach the Earth at a distance of 3.4 million miles.
- The space agency classifies it as “near Earth” and says it is “potentially dangerous”.
The idea of an asteroid LondonBig Ben whizzing past our planet might sound like the plot of a new sci-fi blockbuster.
But it will become a reality tomorrow, when the space rock will approach the Earth at a distance of 3.4 million miles.
Though it may seem far away NASA classifies it as an approach to Earth and even says that this asteroid is “potentially dangerous”.
The asteroid, named “2023 JD2”, is estimated to be up to 360 feet (110 meters) in diameter.
By comparison, it is larger than London’s Big Ben and New York’s Statue of Liberty, which measure 315 feet (96 meters) and 305 feet (93 meters) respectively.
The asteroid, named “2023 JD2”, is estimated to be up to 360 feet (110 meters) in diameter. By comparison, it is larger than London’s Big Ben and New York’s Statue of Liberty, which measure 315 feet (96 meters) and 305 feet (93 meters) respectively.
What is a “potentially dangerous” asteroid?
A potentially dangerous asteroid is an asteroid whose orbit approaches the Earth closer than 0.05 AU. (about 7.5 million km).
It is also at least 100 meters (300 ft) in diameter.
The International Astronomical Union claims that there are about 1,500 potentially dangerous asteroids.
While they do not pose a threat to Earth at the moment, such large asteroids could cause havoc if they landed on our planet, especially in densely populated areas.
It is believed that one hits the Earth once every 200-300 years.
The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow at 19:52 GMT.
According to NASA, it will be at a distance of about 0.03 AU at this point. (3.4 million miles) away from us and moving at breakneck speeds of up to 29,000 miles per hour.
“Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them closer to the Sun at a distance of 120 million miles (195 million kilometers), which means that they can move around the orbital neighborhood of the Earth,” NASA explained.
“Most near-Earth objects are asteroids ranging in size from 10 feet (several meters) to almost 25 miles (40 kilometers) across.”
While the chance of this asteroid colliding with Earth is extremely low, NASA does not rule out the risk of an asteroid impact in the near future.
NASA detects about 30 new “near-Earth objects” (NEOs) every week, and at the beginning of 2019, a total of more than 19,000 objects were detected.
However, the space agency has warned that its NEO catalog is not complete, meaning that an unforeseen collision could happen “at any time.”
NASA explained: “Experts estimate that an object the size of the one that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 — about 55 feet (17 meters) in size — occurs once or twice a century.
While the chance of this asteroid colliding with Earth is extremely low, NASA does not rule out the risk of an asteroid impact in the near future (file image).
“It is expected that collisions with larger objects will occur much less often (on a scale from centuries to millennia).
“However, given the current incompleteness of the NEO catalog, an unanticipated impact, such as the Chelyabinsk event, could occur at any time.”
To help prepare for such an impact, NASA recently launched its first ever “planetary defense” mission to deflect an asteroid 6.8 million miles from Earth.
The small spacecraft successfully deflected the space rock by crashing into it. Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.
The ship’s target was a satellite called Dimorphos orbiting its parent asteroid Didyma.
On September 26, DART took off at 15,000 miles per hour (24,000 km/h) towards Dimorphos to push it out of orbit.
A March 1, 2023 NASA confirms the mission was a resounding success.
According to Christina Thomas and her colleagues at Northern Arizona University, the refrigerator-sized satellite managed to shorten the orbit of the 520-foot-wide asteroid by 33 minutes—nearly five times longer than predicted.
They concluded: “To serve as a proof-of-concept for a kinetic impact planetary defense method, DART needed to demonstrate that an asteroid could be targeted during a high-velocity impact and that the target’s orbit could be changed.
“DART has successfully accomplished both.”
NASA’s interactive tool allows users to keep track of asteroids heading towards Earth.
Earlier this month NASA warned that a city-destroying asteroid the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa could crash into Earth in just over 20 years.
This happened just two months after another space rock that was about the size of London bus – made the fourth closest approach to our planet in the history of observations.
The good news is that the US space agency, along with scientists from around the world, is tracking down potential asteroids, and even better, you can do it too. interactive tool.
It shows the next five closest approaches to Earth, starting in 2020 FV4 three days later.
The 100-foot (30 m) wide object is expected to fly past our planet at a distance of about 4.1 million miles (6.7 million kilometers).