NASA has warned that a colossal asteroid is all set to make a close approach with the planet today.
Though most asteroids are found in a ring between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter, called the asteroid belt, that doesn’t mean they’ve never come close to Earth. In fact, some space rocks have made their way towards Earth in the past. Some of these space rocks have even caused a major impact and even triggered an extinction-level event. One of the major asteroid-related events in history was when one struck the Earth nearly 65 million years ago. It was responsible for triggering the extinction of dinosaurs when it crashed on Earth near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Although nearly not as dangerous, NASA has warned that another asteroid is on its way towards Earth, and it is a big one.
Asteroid 2014 HK129 details
A colossal 680 feet wide asteroid named Asteroid 2014 HK129 is expected to zoom past Earth today, December 20. In fact, this stadium-sized asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 41689 kilometers per hour. The Asteroid 2014 HK129 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today at a distance of 2.5 million kilometers.
This asteroid is not expected to collide with Earth. Though you should not be worried as NASA already has a plan in motion to engage in planetary defense to protect the planet against rogue asteroids with the help of its DART Mission.
NASA’s DART asteroid mission
NASA’s first attempt at planetary defense against potentially world-ending asteroids was a success, the space agency revealed. The aim of the Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART test was to smash a spacecraft into the Dimorphos asteroid to deflect it away from its path. According to NASA, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit the larger asteroid Didymos. Astronomers studied the collision data using various telescopes and revealed that the orbit time was reduced by almost 32 minutes.
The studies were conducted with the help of various images captured by the spacecraft’s camera named cubeSAT LICIACube which is made up of two key components, LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) and LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid), both of which captured key data from the collision.