‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroid’ Up To 1,000ft Wide To Fly Past Earth Next Week
An asteroid that has been dubbed by NASA as ‘potentially hazardous’ is due to make a ‘close approach’ to Earth next week.
The giant rock, known as 2021 KT1, will fly past our planet at around 3.24pm BST (10.24am EDT) on June 1 while travelling through space at a speed of around 40,000mph.
It is estimated by NASA to measure between 492 feet and 1,082 feet in diameter, meaning that if the upper estimate is more accurate, the rock is wider than the height of the Eiffel Tower.
While the thought of an object of this size hurtling through space could be a cause for concern, we don’t have to worry about being spiked by a giant Eiffel Tower-shaped rock just yet, as the asteroid is due to safely pass Earth before continuing on its way.
NASA has included the upcoming flyby in its ‘close approaches’ data table, but it will actually be at a distance of around 4.5 million miles away, meaning there’s not even the chance of a quick rush of wind and heat as it passes.
According to the-sky.org, 2021 KT1 makes one orbit around the sun every 1,126 days, with the asteroid reaching a maximum distance of 483 million kilometres away from the sun and a minimum distance of 151 million kilometres.
So why is it classified as a ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ (PHA), I hear you ask? Well, NASA makes its determination based on an asteroid’s size and how close it can come to our planet.
If a hurtling space rock is more than around 4,650,000 miles away, or smaller than around 500 feet in diameter, it is generally not considered to be a PHA, Newsweek reports.
Asteroid 2021 KT1 is one of around 26,000 near-earth asteroids currently being tracked by NASA, of which around 1,000 are thought to potentially be bigger than one kilometre across.
NASA has assured that ‘no one should be overly concerned about an Earth impact of an asteroid or comet’, with its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) stating, ‘The threat to any one person from auto accidents, disease, other natural disasters and a variety of other problems is much higher than the threat from NEOs.’
The reason for tracking the asteroids, then, is because over long periods of time the chances of Earth one day being struck by an asteroid are ‘not negligible’.
By monitoring the rocks that come within close range, scientists are able to calculate their future movements and predict any potential impact far in advance, at which point scientists would attempt to deflect the asteroid away from us.
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