The fall equinox, which occurs Sept. 22, will bring the Earth around 12 hours of daylight, 12 hours of the night, and a rogue space rock almost three times the size of the Statue of Liberty.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory claimed that the asteroid, dubbed 2021 NY1, will pass harmlessly by our planet, but it will still be classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO) because it will pass within 120 million miles (193 million kilometers) of the sun.
According to that metric, asteroid 2021 NY1 will pass Earth at a distance of around 970,000 miles (1,560,000 km), or just under four times the distance between Earth and the moon.
While asteroids like this pose no threat to Earth's life, NASA keeps track of all NEOs if their orbits shift in the future, putting them closer to a collision with our planet.
Because most asteroids are stony pieces from that time, studying their features can give new facts about the solar system's early days.
According to NASA's NEO database, asteroid 2021 NY1 is a decent-sized rock, ranging between 425 and 985 feet in diameter (130 to 300 meters), or three to six Statues of Liberty tall.
The freewheeling rock travels through space at a speed of around 21,000 mph (33,800 km/h), or nearly 27 times the speed of sound.
No Need to Worry
This fall asteroid isn't even close to being the closest one to ever travel through our area. According to Space.com, the asteroid 2020 QG flew just 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the Indian Ocean on Aug. 16, 2020. In addition, no known asteroids have approached our planet without exploding in the atmosphere or colliding with its surface.
Due to state-of-the-art impact simulations and risk models presently running on NASA supercomputers, it is now faster and more precise to estimate the possible damage when an asteroid crashes Earth and plan appropriate steps to lessen the severity of the impact.
Researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center's Asteroid Threat Assessment Project (ATAP) are using a unique combination of high-fidelity computer simulations and the likely risks posed by asteroids to provide very accurate estimates of the damage asteroid fragments could cause as they travel through the atmosphere and then strike the ground.
To plan asteroid surveys, probability of occurrence, risk mitigation tactics, and disaster-response decisions, it's crucial to know ahead of time what sizes and types of asteroids constitute a severe threat and what damage they may do.
Depending on the asteroid's size and when it is discovered, an asteroid threat assessment can be organized ahead of time.
In addition, NASA and its partners have found and monitored 95 percent of asteroids with a diameter of one kilometer or greater that are thought to pass within 30 million miles of Earth. Despite these outstanding numbers and data collection, researchers are still in need of more data and models.
Because they are too dark to notice, smaller NEOs designated as "big enough" to pierce Earth's atmosphere and cause surface damage are difficult to catch and monitor.
The Probabilistic Asteroid Impact Risk, or PAIR, is a valuable tool in ATAP's modeling scenarios. By sampling from statistical distributions of asteroid features, modeling the atmospheric entrance and breakup of each event, and evaluating the consequent damage at locations worldwide, PAIR can assess millions of impact scenarios from asteroids of varied sizes and properties.
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