NASA, the United States space agency is now busy monitoring near-earth objects (NEO), that may pose threats to the earth's existence. As of now, NASA has tracked tens of thousands of asteroids, comets and other space bodies that can be considered NEOs due to their dangerous trajectories. And one among these space bodies named asteroid 2019 OU will skim past the earth on January 10, 2019.
Will asteroid 2019 OU trigger devastation on earth?
Initial analysis conducted by NASA on asteroid 2019 OU revealed that it has a diameter of 550 metres, and it is currently screeching across space at a breathtaking speed of 21,000 miles per hour. Fortunately, this asteroid is expected to miss earth at a distance of 2.8 million miles. Even though this distance seems quite huge as per human standards, it is a very small distance in astronomical terms considering the vastness of the universe.
However, some experts believe that a small change in this asteroid's trajectory could bring about devastating effects on the earth. If this asteroid reaches the earth and causes a mid-air explosion, it will unleash energy equivalent to the blast of hundreds of nuclear bombs.
Asteroid defensive measures in full swing
As threats from deep space loom up, NASA is busy developing their planetary defence weapon to combat a possible doomsday scenario which may happen in the future. This defence weapon is basically a large spacecraft, and its primary aim will be nudging an approaching asteroid from its original collision course trajectory.
However, a section of space experts argues that this planetary defence weapon will not be capable enough to nudge giant asteroids like Apophis. As per these space experts, the only way to protect the earth from such space rocks is by nuking them. But nuking an asteroid will cause radioactive rain, and it will negatively affect the life on earth.
Russia's planetary defence program
As NASA is continuing its planetary protection mission, Russia has also started a similar space program, and the country's space agency ROSCOSMOS is planning to create a centre devoted to monitoring space bodies like comets, meteors, and asteroid to ensure they do not collide with the earth. Close sources to the space agency revealed that the authorities will approve the centre in mid-2020, and it will remain operational until 2030.