NASA has spotted an asteroid called 2022 SJ28 which will come dangerously close to the Earth today, October 5. Know whether it can strike our planet.
Just a week after the NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, the Earth may just be facing the threat of an asteroid strike! A 60-foot wide asteroid is headed in the direction of our planet and there is a fear that it might hit us today, October 5. NASA has been preparing for Earth-bound asteroids for years and just a week ago it had conducted its first ever test for planetary defense. But will it need to use its tech to protect us today? The asteroid today is not large enough to destroy the Earth, but it is big enough to flatten an entire city if it makes an impact. So, what are the chances of an asteroid strike today? Read on to find out.
According to information from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Small-Body database and Center For Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), departments of NASA who all collate the information, we have a substantial amount of information about this asteroid. It is named Asteroid 2022 SJ28 and notably, it was first observed on September 24th of this year. That is the scary part as no one knew it was coming. The asteroid is expected to come as close as 5.7 million kilometers to the Earth. Now, while it may seem like a large distance and that we do not need to worry, things are not as simple. The space rock is traveling at the speed of 33,264 kmph. At this mind numbing speed, it can close that distance in hours if not days, if a last moment deviation took place.
Will the asteroid strike us?
While telescopes like NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) have been observing the asteroid, the latest projections reveal that it should make a safe passage across the planet. However, considering instances like deflections due to gravitational fields, it cannot be said for certain that we are safe. However, NASA departments like PDCO (Planetary Defense Coordination Office) are monitoring it for any changes in its path.
Earth’s planetary defense system
Now that the DART mission has been successfully concluded, the next few months will be spent by NASA going over the data to understand the result of the impact. During this period, NASA will look at data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb Space Telescope, the LILIACube satellite which accompanied the DART impactor as well as information from some ground-based telescopes.
The data will consist of images of the crater left behind by the spacecraft, the change in trajectory of the Dimorphos asteroid, the long-term consequences of the impact as well as any other structural changes in the asteroid. Once the data confirms the success of the mission, NASA will be building a fleet of such spacecraft that can avert a situation where an asteroid threatens to strike the planet.