Although giant asteroids seldom crash with our planet, they occasionally pass within a reasonably close range before disappearing into the cosmic vacuum.
Unfortunately, another asteroid is on its way to passing within a "potentially hazardous" distance of the Earth later this month, and the great bulk of mankind will be completely unaware.
Should you be concerned about the giant space rock that may potentially cause devastation if it collides with Earth? You shouldn't do it. That isn't to say you should ignore it.
Asteroid 2016 AJ193
According to EarthSky, the asteroid, dubbed 2016 AJ193, is just under a mile across and traveling at a speed of 58,538 miles per hour. It will pass closest to Earth on August 23 around 11:10 a.m.
According to scientists, ET and anybody hoping to detect the asteroid in the wild would have the best chance of doing so before daybreak. If you want to see it, you'll need to use a telescope.
Despite NASA's designation of "possibly dangerous," EarthSky is quick to dispel any worries of imminent doom (at least from this specific asteroid) by stating that it will not impact Earth.
The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii initially identified 2016 AJ193 in 2016. Because of its close proximity to our planet, it is categorized as a Near-Earth Object (NEO), although the requirements are really specified by a magnitude of millions, as NASA explains:
"They are nearing 7.5 million kilometers of Earth's orbit (about 4.6 million miles). Mars and Earth are roughly 53 million kilometers (about 33 million miles) distant when they are at their closest."
This asteroid barely circles the Sun once every six years, and it won't return to within a very near distance to Earth for another 65 years. So, when you think about it that way, there's nothing to be concerned about.
NEOs, or Near-Earth Objects, are potentially devastating dangers to our planet. An asteroid or comet that travels close to Earth's orbit is known as a near-Earth object. In technical words, a NEO has a course that puts it within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun and hence within 0.3 astronomical units of the Earth's orbit, or roughly 45 million kilometers.
NEOs have been moved into orbits that enable them to approach the Earth due to gravitational disturbances caused by neighboring planets.
Keeping Track of NEOs
Scientists keep an eye on NEOs because asteroids and comets within this range might conceivably be pulled into our planet's orbit, though this is extremely unlikely. If a NEO were to ever constitute a threat, it would all come down to mitigation.
"Knowing the size, shape, mass, composition, and structure of these objects helps identify the best approach to redirect one if it has an Earth-threatening path," the space agency adds.
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