A newly discovered “potentially dangerous” asteroid nearly the size of the world’s tallest skyscraper is poised to zip past Earth just in time for Halloween, according to NASA.
the asteroid, named 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) Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It will zoom past 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 point on November 1. 1, the asteroid will come within about 2.3 million kilometers (1.43 million miles) of Landabout six times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. By cosmic standards, this is a very small margin.
related: Why do asteroids and comets have such strange shapes? (opens in a new tab)
NASA marks 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) of our planet as “potentially dangerous”. Once marked, these potential threats are watched closely by astronomers, who study them with radar for signs of any deviation from their predicted trajectories that could put them on a devastating collision course with Earth.
There is no danger, but the newly discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass within 6 lunar distances on November 1. Possibly 740 meters wide, it will brighten to magnitude 14.3, well within the reach of home telescopes. @unistellar This is very close for an asteroid this size. #2022RM4 pic.twitter.com/Z8khblg3GqOctober 5, 2022
NASA tracks the locations and orbits of approximately 28,000 asteroids, marking them with the Asteroid Earth Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS): A set of four telescopes capable of performing a total scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours.
Since ATLAS went online in 2017, it has detected more than 700 near-Earth asteroids and 66 comets. Two of the asteroids detected by ATLAS, 2019 MO and 2018 LA, hit Earth, the former exploding off the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the latter crashing near the border of Botswana and South Africa. Fortunately, those asteroids were small and did not cause any damage.
NASA has estimated the trajectories of all near-Earth objects beyond the end of the century. The good news is that Earth does not face any known danger of a doomsday 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 this doesn’t mean astronomers think they should stop looking. While most NEOs may not wipe out civilization, like the planet-destroying comet in the 2021 satirical disaster movie “Don’t Look Up,” there are plenty of devastating asteroid impacts in history. recent to justify continued surveillance.
For example, in March 2021, a meteor the size of a bowling ball Exploded over Vermont (opens in a new tab) with the force of 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of TNT. In 2013, a meteorite that exploded in the atmosphere over the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk generated an explosion roughly equivalent 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). During the 2013 explosion, fireballs rained down on the city and its surroundings, damaging buildings, shattering windows and injuring an estimated 1,500 people.
If astronomers ever spy a dangerous asteroid headed our way, space agencies around the world are already working on possible ways to deflect it. on Sept. 26, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft redirected the non-hazardous asteroid Dimorphos by ramming him off course (opens in a new tab)altering the asteroid’s orbit in 32 minutes in the first test of Earth’s planetary defense system.
China has also suggested (opens in a new tab) is in the early planning stages of an asteroid redirection mission. By launching 23 Long March 5 rockets at the asteroid bennuWhich will oscillate within 7.4 million kilometers (4.6 million miles) of Earth’s orbit between the years 2175 and 2199, the country hopes to deflect the space rock from a potentially catastrophic impact with our planet.
Originally published on Live Science.
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