NASA warns that a huge 95-foot wide asteroid will be coming dangerously close to the Earth today, October 15.
The perils of an asteroid strike is known to all. We have grown up reading about the 10-kilometers wide asteroid that struck the Earth 65-million years ago and killed all non-avian dinosaurs, caused a mini ice age and made Earth inhospitable for life for many years. And that is why scientists do not take any asteroids lightly, despite its size for even small asteroids can cause great destruction. Today, October 15, a 95-foot wide asteroid is going to make its closest approach towards our planet, as per NASA. And even at its size, the asteroid is capable of destroying an entire city if it does make an impact. So, what are the chances? Read on to find out.
Massive asteroid heading for the Earth
The Planetary Defense of NASA is made up of multiple departments, all of which are tasked with monitoring the Near-Earth Objects (NEO). These departments include Center for Near Earth Objects Studies (CNEOS), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Small-Body database. The cumulative data from these departments has revealed quite a bit about this space rock. The asteroid approaching the Earth is called 2022 TM2 and it was first discovered just two days ago on October 13, 2022. This asteroid is likely to come as close as 210,000 kilometers to the Earth. In terms of astronomical distances, this is an extremely small number and that is why it is the cause of such a big concern. The asteroid is traveling at the speed 55728 kilometers per hour and can reach the Earth in just 4 hours if there is any last moment deflection.
However, the prediction by NASA at the moment is that there is very little chance that 2022 TM2 will strike the Earth. It is expected that the asteroid will make a safe passage. However, various instruments will be monitoring it till it is at a safe distance from us.
How NASA monitors the space rocks
While multiple ground-based and satellite telescopes observe the asteroids, it is not possible to manually assess over 20,000 NEOs for a risk of strike. That’s why JPL uses a system called Horizons. It is an online solar system data and ephemeris computation service that provides a highly accurate analysis and prediction models for not only NEOs but also 1,239,706 asteroids, 3,829 comets, 211 planetary satellites, 8 planets, the Sun, L1, L2, select spacecraft, and system barycenters.