Shock! Asteroid wider than 2 soccer fields is barreling towards Earth tonight

An asteroid wider than two soccer fields will zoom previous Earth within the wee hours of Thursday (Aug. 4). The asteroid is ready to go at 12:23 a.m. (ET).

NASA astronomers found the asteroid, often called 2022 OE2, simply days in the past, on July 26. The meaty area rock is estimated to measure between 557 and 1,246 ft (170 to 380 meters) extensive, which is about twice as extensive as an American soccer discipline is lengthy. Astronomers additionally confirmed that 2022 OE2 is an Apollo-class asteroid, which implies it orbits the solar and crosses the trail of Earth‘s orbit, Live Science previously reported. (Astronomers know of about 15,000 such asteroids.)

The impression from an asteroid this huge would launch extra vitality than 1,000 nuclear bombs. Nevertheless, this one will miss Earth by a large margin, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Asteroid 2022 OE2 is predicted to go Earth at a distance of roughly 3.2 million miles (5.1 million kilometers) — greater than 13 occasions the typical distance between Earth and the moon. For context, that is considerably farther than the asteroid 2022 NF, which got here inside a mere 56,000 miles (90,000 km) — or about 23% the typical distance between Earth and the moon — on July 7.

NASA displays tens of hundreds of near-Earth objects like this one and has estimated the trajectories of all of them past the tip of the century. The excellent news is, Earth is in no hazard of a cataclysmic asteroid impression for at the very least the subsequent 100 years, NASA has said.

Nonetheless, astronomers are conscious {that a} minor change in trajectory — which may very well be brought on by a collision with one other asteroid, for instance, or the gravitational pull of a planet — might alter the orbit of a giant asteroid and put it on a probably catastrophic course with Earth.

As such, area companies take planetary protection very critically. In November 2021, NASA launched an asteroid-deflecting mission referred to as the Double Asteroid Redirection Check, by which a spacecraft will slam instantly into the 525-foot-wide (160 m) asteroid Dimorphos in autumn 2022. The collision will not destroy the asteroid, however it could change the space rock’s orbital path barely, Reside Science beforehand reported. The mission will assist check the viability of asteroid deflection, ought to some future area rock pose an imminent hazard to our planet.

Initially printed on Reside Science.

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