130-foot aircraft-sized asteroid set to approach Earth!

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NASA has warned that a 130-foot asteroid is heading for a rendezvous with Earth! Know about its trajectory, size and distance.

NASA has an eye in the sky called NEOWISE, or NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer, which completes its trip around the Sun every 12 months, similar to Earth. The NASA survey telescope takes images throughout its journey which are then stitched together to form a sky-map, according to NASA. This sky-map shows the positions and the brightness of millions of celestial objects in space. NEOWISE also helps scientists keep a watch for any asteroids which could potentially impact the Earth. NASA has now issued an asteroid warning for a similar asteroid which is heading for Earth soon.

Asteroid 2022 US14 details

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 US14. The humongous 130-foot wide asteroid, similar to the size of a commercial aircraft, is expected to come very close ti the Earth tomorrow, November 18. How close? Just 3.2 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 29788 kilometers per hour.

Although this asteroid is not expected to impact Earth, a slight deviation in the asteroid’s path due to interaction with the planet’s gravitational field could change its trajectory with catastrophic consequences.

Most of these asteroids are observed with the help of the NEOWISE Project which repurposed NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer to work as a survey telescope and scan the sky for Near-Earth Objects. NASA then uses its ground-based radar to gather precise data about the asteroid’s path and its characteristics.

NASA’s sky-map

As of now, NASA has stitched 18 sky maps together using the images captured by the NEOWISE, with 19th and 20th maps to be released around March 2023. With the help of these maps, NASA scientists have created a time-lapse of the sky, showing the changes in position of numerous celestial objects, spanning across the last decade.

This move will help in better understanding of our Universe and enable scientists to study the changes in positions and brightness of space objects in the last decade. This is called Time-Domain Astronomy.

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