In the early morning hours of Thursday, an asteroid that is larger than two football fields will fly by the planet Earth (Aug. 4). At precisely 12:23 in the morning, the asteroid will go by (ET).
Only a few days ago, on July 26, astronomers from NASA identified the asteroid that is now known as 2022 OE2. The meaty space rock is predicted to measure between 170 and 380 metres broad, which is approximately twice as big as an American football field is long. Its length is estimated to be between 557 and 1,246 feet. According to a recent post by Live Science, astronomers have verified that asteroid 2022 OE2 is of the Apollo-class, which indicates that it orbits the sun and intersects with the course that Earth takes around the sun. (Astronomers are aware of approximately 15,000 objects of this kind.)
The explosion caused by the collision of an asteroid of this size would unleash more energy than one thousand nuclear bombs. According to research conducted at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this one, on the other hand, will steer far clear of our planet.
It is anticipated that the asteroid 2022 OE2 will fly by the Earth at a distance of around 3.2 million miles (5.1 million kilometres), which is greater than 13 times the typical distance between the Earth and the moon. To put this in perspective, on July 7 an asteroid known as 2022 NF approached within a scant 56,000 miles (90,000 km) of Earth, which is approximately 23 percent of the typical distance between Earth and the moon. This new asteroid is substantially further away.
The path that each of these tens of thousands of near-Earth objects will take well into the next century has been estimated by NASA, which monitors and tracks all of these objects like this one. NASA has stated that there is no threat of a catastrophic asteroid impact occurring on Earth for at least the next one hundred years, which is good news.
Nevertheless, astronomers are aware of the possibility that a large asteroid’s orbit could be altered by a minor change in trajectory, which could be caused by a collision with another asteroid, for example, or by the gravitational pull of a planet. This would put the large asteroid on a course that could be disastrous for Earth.
As a consequence of this, space agencies place a high priority on planetary defence. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test was an asteroid-deflecting mission that was launched by NASA in November 2021. As part of this mission, a spacecraft will collide head-on with the 160-meter-wide (525-foot-wide) asteroid Dimorphos in the fall of 2022. According to a recent article by Live Science, the collision will not be enough to destroy the asteroid, but it could significantly alter the orbital path of the space rock. In the event that another space rock in the future poses an imminent threat to Earth, this mission will assist in testing the practicality of asteroid deflection.