NASA has warned that a colossal 500-foot asteroid is expected to get fearfully close to Earth today.
Did you know that asteroids have been responsible for some of the biggest events in history? From the Chelyabinsk disaster that injured at least a thousand people to the one that caused the extinction of dinosaurs millions of years ago in Mexico, whenever these space rocks have crashed on Earth, they have changed the course of history. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for monitoring the skies and keeping a watch on various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). If any NEO comes within 8 million kilometers of Earth, the organization red flags the NEO and issues an alert.
Asteroid 2022 UD9 details
NASA has warned that Asteroid 2022 UD9 is on its way towards Earth travelling at a staggering speed of 36969 kilometers per hour. It will make its closest approach to the planet today, December 22, at a distance of 1.7 million kilometers. According to NASA, Asteroid 2022 UD9 is almost the size of a building with a width of nearly 500 feet!
According to the-sky.org, Asteroid 2022 UD9 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids which are a group of near-Earth asteroids named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s. The gigantic space rock orbits the Sun in around 644 days. During this trip, its farthest point from the Sun is at 306 million kilometers and its nearest point is 130 million kilometers.
This asteroid had huge destructive potential due to its sheer size and speed and could have potentially caused mass destruction if it deviated slightly from its path.
After today’s flyby, Asteroid 2022 UD9’s next close approach with Earth will take place on December 7, 2089, at a distance of around 5.4 million kilometers.
What is NASA doing to find potentially hazardous asteroids?
NASA has established a Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), managed in the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The PDCO ensures the early detection of potentially hazardous objects (PHOs) – asteroids and comets whose orbits are predicted to bring them within 0.05 Astronomical Units of Earth (5 million miles or 8 million kilometers) and of a size large enough to reach Earth’s surface – that is, greater than approximately 30 to 50 meters.
NASA tracks and characterizes these objects and issues warnings about potential impacts, providing timely and accurate information. NASA also leads the coordination of U.S. Government planning for response to an actual impact threat.