NASA reveals aircraft-sized asteroid zipping towards Earth; Close encounter today

A massive asteroid is all set to make a close approach to Earth today, NASA has revealed. Know about the asteroid’s speed, trajectory and more.

Did you know that most of the asteroids can be found in a specific region in space? Yes, you read that right! The region is called the asteroid belt – a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. These space rocks are usually made up of rocks, but they can also be made of metals such as nickel and iron, or even clay and were responsible for triggering the extinction of dinosaurs when it crashed on Earth near the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico more than 65 million years ago.

Now, NASA has warned that an asteroid is speeding towards Earth today and although it is not a planet-killer, it has the potential to cause regional damage especially if it crashes in a densely populated area.

Key details about Asteroid 2022 YZ2

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has warned that the asteroid, named Asteroid 2022 YZ2, will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 12, at a distance of 6.4 million kilometers. What’s concerning about this asteroid is its monstrous size, with a width of nearly 260 feet, which is the same size as a whole building!

The asteroid is already travelling towards Earth, at a blistering speed of 23714 kilometers per hour. According to NASA, it belongs to the main 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.

Did you know?

Astronomers have spotted three near-Earth asteroids (NEA) hiding in the glare of the Sun.

One of the asteroids is the largest object that is potentially hazardous to Earth to be discovered in the last eight years. A team using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) mounted on the Victor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab, discovered these asteroids.

This is a notoriously challenging region for observations because asteroid hunters have to contend with the glare of the Sun. By taking advantage of the brief yet favorable observing conditions during twilight, however, the astronomers found this elusive trio.

“So far we have found two large near-Earth asteroids that are about 1 kilometer across, a size that we call planet killers,” said Scott S. Sheppard, an astronomer at the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science.

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