98-foot asteroid to buzz Earth tomorrow! NASA reveals its speed, trajectory

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An aircraft-sized asteroid could be making a trip to Earth as early as tomorrow, NASA has revealed.

The seemingly vast emptiness of space is actually full of humongous celestial objects, out of which only a few have been discovered so far. Asteroids are some of these objects. They are rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, according to NASA. Most of them can be found orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt. Although they are found millions of light years away, they occasionally make a close trip to Earth.

Asteroid 2022 WU11 details

NASA has issued an alert about an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 WU11 which is headed for Earth tomorrow, December 17. According to the space agency, this 98 feet wide is nearly the size of an aircraft, and will make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of 4.4 million kilometers. It is hurtling towards Earth at a staggering speed of 38026 kilometers per hour, which is more than twice the speed of a missile!

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office keeps a check on these Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) for any potential collision with Earth and declares them as Potentially Hazardous Objects if they come within around 8 million kilometers of Earth.

According to the-sky.org, the Asteroid 2022 WU11 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. It was discovered recently on November 27. This asteroid takes 1176 days to complete one trip around the Sun during which its maximum distance from the Sun is 513 million kilometers and nearest distance is 139 million kilometers.

NASA tech to calculate asteroid orbit

An asteroid’s orbit is computed by finding the elliptical path about the sun that best fits the available observations of the object using various space and ground-based telescopes such as NASA’s NEOWISE telescope and its brand-new Sentry II algorithm. That is, the object’s computed path about the sun is adjusted until the predictions of where the asteroid should have appeared in the sky at several observed times match the positions where the object was actually observed to be at those same time.


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