Massive ‘Christmas Asteroid’ Zipping Past the Earth on Christmas Day Longer than Two Full-Length Football Fields
A gigantic asteroid will be zipping past the Earth on Christmas Day that is longer than two full-length football fields. It is currently being monitored by NASA.

(Photo : Pixabay)

In a couple of days, a massive asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is projected to reach Earth's orbit. The enormous space rock, known as 2021 NY1, is expected to approach Earth in September and 17 other approaching objects that NASA is tracking.

The diameter of 2021 New York is 130-300 meters, whereas the Statue of Liberty stands at just 93 meters. There's no reason to be concerned about a collision because the asteroid will pass Earth at a safe distance of 930,487 miles.

The moon orbits us at a distance of 238,855. Therefore, the asteroid will not be a hazard!

Another asteroid under NASA's watch is the 2021 QC1, which has a lower (but still impressive!) diameter of 71-160 meters. This massive asteroid will orbit the Earth at a safe distance of three million miles.

Related Article: Massive Asteroid Twice the Size of Empire State Building Will Pass By Earth on September

Near-Earth Objects

Asteroid belt landscape
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

A near-Earth object (NEO) is an asteroid or comet with an orbit that puts it within 121 million miles (195 million kilometers) of the Sun, allowing it to pass within 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of Earth's orbit. Asteroids and comets orbit the Sun in the same way as planets do. As a result, asteroids may have caught some of the smaller moons of other planets.

Asteroids Travelling Near the Planet

Several times a month, small asteroids the size of a few meters are discovered traveling between Earth and the moon's orbit.

Meteoroids, which are tiny bits of asteroids and comets smaller than 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter, collide with Earth's atmosphere and burst almost every day, generating the brilliant meteor events that humans witness at night and occasionally leaving remains - meteorites - on the ground. Close approach tables are updated daily by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for NEO Studies.

Over the next 100 years, no known asteroid offers a substantial chance of colliding with Earth. The highest danger of collision for a known asteroid is a 1 in 714 likelihood of impact by the asteroid 2009 FD in 2185, which means the chance of it colliding is less than 0.2 percent.

The Sentry Impact Risk Table, kept up to date by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for NEO Studies, is updated regularly as new asteroids are discovered, and existing asteroids are examined more closely.

Asteroid Bennu

Bennu's Particles
(Photo : NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin)

Bennu, an asteroid that NASA is closely investigating, has a 1/2700 probability of colliding with Earth between 2175 and 2195. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will investigate Bennu for two years before taking a sample of asteroid material from its surface and returning it to Earth.

In addition to obtaining a sample, OSIRIS-REx will investigate how light absorbed from the Sun and re-radiated by Bennu changes its trajectory and how that orbit may grow increasingly harmful for Earth. More information about the OSIRIS-REx mission's contribution to planetary defense may be found here.

Asteroid Defense Plan

Currently, the only natural calamity we may be able to avoid is an asteroid collision. NASA is investigating a few ways for deflecting an asteroid on its way to Earth.

A gravity tractor is a strategy that includes a spacecraft rendezvousing with an asteroid (but not landing on its surface) and maintaining its relative, optimum position to exploit the mutual gravitational pull between the satellite and the asteroid to modify the asteroid's trajectory gently.

A gravity tractor spacecraft might potentially boost its gravitational attraction by snatching a rock from the asteroid's surface to increase its mass.

When it comes to NEO deflection, nuclear explosive device approaches are considered the last choice, although they may be the most successful in preventing a cataclysmic disaster. When warning time is limited, or the asteroid is huge, the most effective method is to launch a nuclear weapon.

The way of deploying a nuclear weapon to deflect an asteroid with the highest controllability and predictability is a standoff detonation. This approach involves a nuclear weapon being detonated a few hundred meters above the asteroid's surface.

Also Read: "Giant Space Object Incoming" But, is it Really? (Debunking Alarmist News Headlines)

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