On Wednesday, April 29, an asteroid estimated to be between 1.7 and 4 kilometers wide will pass by our planet. NASA, who first discovered the asteroid in 1998, is keeping an eye on it.
According to CNN, the asteroid, called 52768 (1998 OR2) will pass within 6 290 589 kilometres of Earth, with a speed of 31 319 kilometres per hour. There is no cause for concern as its distance away from Earth is more than 15 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.However, when it was first discovered NASA classified it as a “potentially hazardous object”.
In their original statement in 1998, NASA said the asteroid shows “no signs of coming dangerously close to Earth within at least the next several decades”.
When 1998 OR2 was discovered, another asteroid, 1998 OH, was also found. “The newly discovered asteroids 1998 OH and 1998 OR2 are both large enough to cause global effects if one impacted Earth, and both are classified as ‘potentially hazardous objects’ because they pass periodically near Earth’s orbit (like at least 125 other objects discovered so far),” they said in the 1998 statement.
1998 OR2 is the largest body expected to pass by this year. It is, however, not the largest in history. In September 2017, 3122 Florence (1981 ET3) flew by planet Earth and was estimated to be about 4.9 kilometres wide. This asteroid is expected to pass by Earth again in September 2057.
Scientists have estimated that 1998 OR2’s will pass by Earth several times in the next century, with its closest approach expected to occur in April 2079.
NASA keeps track of all objects flying by the Earth at its Centre for Near Earth Object Studies. They monitor the objects to find out their size, velocity, and their likelihood of hitting the Earth.
Asteroid warning: NASA tracks a 4KM asteroid approach. 52768 (1998 OR2) will approach our planet in April. The good news is that it has been deemed safe by NASA, However, there are cosmic processes that could influence an asteroid to change its trajectory onto an Earth. pic.twitter.com/6wSziH8rwJ
— Wesley Baker (@WesleyJBaker) March 28, 2020
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Image: Twitter / Siraj khan