NASA, the United States space agency is currently tracking the trajectory of an asteroid that is currently screeching across space at a mindblowing speed of 11,100 kilometers per hour. According to the space agency's trackers, this rogue space rock will make its close approach with earth on June 6, 2020.
Scientists have named this asteroid 163348 (2002 NN4), and experts revealed that this space rock is larger than the Empire State building. However, compared to other giant asteroids that have a diameter of several miles, this asteroid is pretty small, as it measures between 0.254 to 0.568 kilometers in diameter.
More Details About This Asteroid
However, due to its predicted close approach with the earth, researchers have classified it as a potentially hazardous space rock. During its close approach on Saturday, this asteroid will be almost five million kilometers away from the earth.
Experts at NASA believe that there is no need to panic, as this asteroid will zip past earth closely without making any damages. It should be noted that such asteroid flybys are quite common, and most of the time, these space rocks will usually zip past earth safely.
Crowded Solar System and Threats Posed by Asteroids
According to space scientists, the solar system in which the earth resides is very violent beyond human imagination. There are several asteroids in different sizes lurking near the orbit of all the planets, and during those unfortunate days, some of these space rocks used to hit these planets causing destruction. However, apart from earth, asteroid hits will not cause much difference to the stability of other planets, as there are no life forms thriving in these space bodies.
One deadly asteroid hit happened around 66 million years ago, and it resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs. Space experts like Iain McDonald and Neil deGrasse Tyson strongly believe that asteroid hits are not confined to the past, and it will happen in the future too. "There are literally hundreds of thousands of asteroids out there, and we want to separate out those we should keep a closer watch on and monitor over time," said Lindley Johnson, NASA's planetary defense officer.
NASA's Planetary Defense Weapon Holds the Key
As threats from space loom up, NASA is currently developing the planetary defense weapon, now known as the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission. According to space agency officials, they will be slamming a spacecraft to an asteroid, so that the original collision course of the space rock can be changed.
Space experts believe that the success of the DART mission will have crucial impacts in determining the fate of the planet, as a failure of this project could make experts rethink more asteroid combating measures which include nuking an approaching space body.