Mile-wide asteroid to hurtle past Earth this week
A vast asteroid up to a mile wide is going to zoom past our planet at 47,000mph on May 27th, according to NASA’s asteroid-spotting experts.
The space rock, known as 7335 (1989 JA) won’t fly past particularly near to Earth — the closest it will get is 2.5 million miles, 10 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
NASA says it’s the largest asteroid which will make a close approach to Earth this year.
The asteroid, which was first spotted in 1989 is described as ‘Bridge-sized’ by NASA, and will safely pass Earth on Friday.
The Virtual Telescope project said: "This 1.8 km large asteroid will reach its minimum distance (about 4 millions of km, almost 10.5 times the average lunar distance) from us on 27 May 2022, at 14:26 UTC. Of course, there are no risks at all for our planet.’’
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The asteroid is an Apollo asteroid, with orbits which cross Earth’s.
The asteroids have relatively short lifespans, due to their potential to collide with inner planets – and there are more than 1,600 of them known.
NASA has already taken steps towards a real solution if an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth – a mission to knock potential doomsday asteroids onto less-threatening flight paths.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) launched late last year on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
The idea is that a fridge-sized DART spacecraft will hit the asteroid faster than a bullet - and change its orbit.
On its test mission, the DART will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth.
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Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.
DART will show that a spacecraft can autonomously navigate to a target asteroid and intentionally collide with it – a method of deflection called kinetic impact.
The test will provide important data to help better prepare for an asteroid that might pose an impact hazard to Earth, should one ever be discovered. “DART is turning science fiction into science fact and is a testament to NASA’s proactivity and innovation for the benefit of all,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson.
“In addition to all the ways NASA studies our universe and our home planet, we’re also working to protect that home, and this test will help prove out one viable way to protect our planet from a hazardous asteroid should one ever be discovered that is headed toward Earth.
Watch: Launch of DART spacecraft lights up night sky