A “potentially dangerous” asteroid measuring over a mile in length will pass Earth this week, the largest asteroid expected to come relatively close to our planet in 2022.
The asteroid, named 1989 JA, is estimated to be 1.1 miles long, or 5,905 feet, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies. For reference, the asteroid is twice the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.
NASA says there are nearly 29,000 near-Earth asteroids in space, but 1989 JA is one of 878 that are at least 3,280 feet across.
An asteroid that big could cause a disaster on Earth, but there’s no need to worry. When 1989 JA makes its closest approach to Earth on Friday, it will be 2.5 million kilometers away, about 10 times the distance from the Moon and the closest it has ever been to Earth.
Franck Marchis, scientific director of telescope company Unistellar and senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, told US TODAY that the asteroid was moving at around 30,000 mph.
“To provide context, that’s 17 times the speed of a bullet through air. At that speed, the asteroid could circle planet Earth in 45 minutes,” Marchis said.
Discovered in 1989 by astronomer Eleanor Helin at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California, the asteroid is labeled “potentially hazardous” because it is an Apollo asteroid, meaning it is crossing Earth’s orbit .
This week will mark when the asteroid will come close to Earth in the next 172 years, according to NASA plans.
Although 1989 JA does not hit Earth, NASA is preparing for the possibility of a catastrophically sized asteroid being on target to hit the planet. The agency launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, on Nov. 25 to test whether it is possible to deflect an asteroid from its path.
The Virtual Telescope Project will livestream the asteroid flying past Earth on Thursday and Friday in partnership with Telescope Live. The livestream will air from Chile on Thursday at 7 p.m. EST and from Argentina on Friday at 9 a.m. EST.
Video: We Asked a NASA Scientist: What if an Asteroid Hits Earth?
(c) 2022 USA Today. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Quote: Largest asteroid to approach Earth in 2022 will pass our planet this week (2022, May 24) Retrieved May 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-largest-asteroid- approach-earth-planet. html
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