Blue-whale-size asteroid to screech previous Earth in shut encounter on June 6

An asteroid as much as thrice bigger than a blue whale will zoom previous Earth on Monday (June 6) at greater than 16,000 mph (26,000 km/h), according to NASA (opens in new tab).

The asteroid, named 2021 GT2, is predicted to securely miss our planet by greater than 2.2 million miles (3.5 million kilometers) — or roughly 10 instances the typical distance between Earth and the moon. Astronomers first detected the area rock final yr and estimated its measurement at between 121 and 272 toes (37 to 83 meters) vast. Whereas that sounds fairly huge — between one and thrice the size of a blue whale — it is not giant sufficient to be thought-about a possible hazard to Earth.

2021 GT2 is an Aten-class asteroid, that means it orbits the sun extra intently than Earth does (as soon as each 342 days, on this case), and its orbital path crosses Earth’s orbit. Astronomers know of greater than 1,800 such asteroids — lots of that are thought-about doubtlessly hazardous.

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After June 6, its subsequent shut strategy to Earth will happen on Jan. 26, 2034, when the asteroid passes inside 9 million miles (14.5 million km) of our planet — considerably farther out than the upcoming strategy.

The asteroid is taken into account a near-Earth object — a time period given to asteroids and comets that orbit inside 1.3 astronomical models of the solar. (An astronomical unit is the gap between Earth and the solar, about 93 million miles, or 149.6 million km.) NASA screens tens of hundreds of those objects, predicting the trajectories of every one from current day to a whole bunch of years into the long run. In the intervening time, astronomers don’t suppose that any near-Earth objects pose a menace to Earth.

Nonetheless, scientists need to be prepared if a near-Earth asteroid’s trajectory ought to all of a sudden change following an surprising incident — say, one near-Earth asteroid colliding into one other and showering giant chunks of particles all through the solar system.

NASA is at the moment within the midst of testing whether or not a big asteroid could possibly be knocked off target by crashing a rocket into it. In November 2021, NASA launched an asteroid-deflecting spacecraft (opens in new tab) referred to as the Double Asteroid Redirection Check (DART), which can slam head-on into the 530-foot-wide (160 m) Dimorphos asteroid in autumn 2022. The collision is not going to destroy the asteroid, however it could change the rock’s orbital path barely, Reside Science beforehand reported.

Initially printed on Reside Science.



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