On 29th April, 2020, a big asteroid called 1998 OR2 will make a flyby near earth. But don’t panic. It will not even come close to hitting the earth.
When an asteroid or comet comes close to the earth, it is known as Near-Earth Object (NEO). NEOs are defined as an object that could pass by our planet within 30 million miles. NASA keeps a close watch on the objects that could fly within 5 million miles.
To put it into perspective, Our moon is 238,900 miles away from earth.
How do we spot Near-Earth Objects?
- survey telescopes scan the sky
- Moving objects are checked against the database of Known objects
- If there is no match, it gets added to the list of “Objects to confirm”
- Astronomers look after it and predict if its going to come near to earth
- Check if the earth is safe!
- Keep watching the skies
- What is 1998 OR2 all about?
It is one of the large Near earth asteroids and we have been tracking it for about the past 20 years and we have predicted this close approach for a long time.
It is 2-3 km in diameter. It is passing pretty far away, about 4 million miles away. It is one of the large NEOs. Unfortunately, We won’t be able to see it by naked eyes.
- Why is it necessary to find Near-Earth asteroids early on?
It is important to find asteroids early on, because the more time we have, to determine whether it will pass from near earth. Thus we can have some warning time, to prepare and do something about it if it seems damage to Earth. It gives time to take mitigation measures.
- How can YOU find real facts about every asteroid that could make a Close approach?
The Internet is flooded with the news that Asteroid might hit the Earth and there is some kind of uncertainty. But that’s not the case. We know the trajectories of these asteroids pretty accurately.
Here you can get the actual facts about every asteroid passing by: https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/
It gives all the details about the names of the asteroid, how near it will come, its size, its velocity, and more.
- What if we find that an asteroid can hit the earth (have an impact)?
Yes, we can deflect the asteroid to miss the earth. This technology is still under development. The Science behind it is to slightly change the velocity of the asteroid which can change its path and thus it will miss the earth. NASA will be testing this asteroid deflection technique in 2021-22.
Some more Fun Facts:
- This big asteroid which will be making a close approach on 29 April is named as 1998 OR2 because it was found in 1998.
- An asteroid called Apophis will be visible to us by naked eyes when it will make a near fly by in 2029. It will be an exciting event
- We have found almost 23000 near-earth asteroids till now.