'Potentially Hazardous' Aircraft-sized Asteroid To Fly Past Earth Tomorrow

An asteroid, around 110 feet wide, similar to the size of an aeroplane, is expected to fly past Earth on August 31. The asteroid travelling at a speed of 42,768 kilometre per hour falls under the category of “Potentially Hazardous Objects” due to the close proximity it has with our planet. Named 2022 QZ6, the asteroid is going to fly past Earth at a speed of 12,60,000 kilometre.

US space agency NASA describes NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) as NEOs (Near-Earth Objects) as comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. These space rocks are identified as NEOs when their proximity from the Earth is less than 8 million kilometre.

When it comes to the PHAs (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids), the classification is done based on a unit called Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID). An MOID value of 0.05 au or less is considered to be PHA. To put things in perspective, 0.05au, translated to kilometre, equals roughly 74,80,000. Any asteroid passing below this limit is considered to be a PHA.

NASA has been diligently tracking close fly-bys, which happen quite frequently. Collision with an asteroid, if big enough, can lead to catastrophic results. To tackle such a situation, NASA, last year, launched the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) program. The program is developed aiming at planetary defence against near-Earth Objects.

In the program, the space organisation is planning to send a spacecraft towards an asteroid pair consisting of Dimorphous and Didymos. The spacecraft will be sent to hit the double asteroid, following which, NASA will assess the deflection of the asteroid from the hit. This will also chart out the future path that will help to eradicate the possibility of an asteroid hit.

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Asteroid 2022 QZ6 is not the only NEO passing by Earth in the coming days. An asteroid named 161989 Cacus 1978 CA, much bigger than QZ6, will fly by earth on September 1. With its huge size measuring a width of 1.9 kilometre, the asteroid is bigger than 99 percent of all known asteroids.

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