asteroid in a collision course
Representational image of asteroids approaching the earth Pixabay

As NASA is busy developing their planetary defense weapon to protect the earth from future asteroid hits, a mammoth space rock that measures approximately 620 meters will whiz past the earth on the boxing day, December 26. This icy chunk named '310442 (2000 CH59)' is apparently traveling across space at a neck-breaking speed of 27.470 miles per hour.

It should be noted that the Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Russia in 2013 was just 17 meters long, and it triggered widespread damage in the impacted area. If an asteroid with such a huge size like 310442 (2000 CH59) hits the earth, it will cause massive devastation on a global scale and millions of people will lose life in a fraction of a second.

Experts have classified 310442 (2000 CH59) as an Apollo class asteroid. These space bodies have wide elliptical orbits, and sometimes, they get affected by the gravitational keyhole of nearby planets. It should be noted that gravitational keyhole is an area in the space where rogue bodies like asteroids get affected by the gravitational pull of nearby planets.

However, space agencies like NASA believe that 310442 (2000 CH59) will not come that close on December 26 flyby, and as a result, the possibility of a collision can be ruled out completely. At its closes, this asteroid will be almost 4.5 million miles away from the earth, and it is expected to zip past earth safely.

Earlier, Natalie Starkey, a space scientist and author of the book 'Catching Stardust' had suggested that pre-emptive strike using a nuclear weapon is the best way to protect the earth from asteroid hits. Starkey believes that nuking an asteroid at the final moment could create a radioactive rain, but a pre-emptive strike on the asteroid's prior close-earth visits, this problem can be addressed effectively.

A few days back, Elon Musk, the founder of private space company SpaceX had called NASA's planetary mission 'Armageddon'. Interestingly, the comments from Musk came just a few days after the United States space agency roped in SpaceX to deflect asteroids that might collide with the earth.