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

NASA has been busy formulating plans to combat a potential asteroid hit in the future for the past couple of years, and in order to protect the earth from dangerous space threats, the United States space agency is apparently developing a planetary defence weapon. However, despite stringent efforts to spot near-earth objects (NEO), the space agency has failed to spot an approaching asteroid which is expected to make its close flyby tomorrow, November 01, 2019.

According to the International Astronomical Union, this asteroid named 2019 UG11 was first observed just ten days back. The asteroid measuring 17 meters in length is now barrelling towards space at a speed of more than 35,000 kilometres per hour, and it will swing by at just 0.5 lunar distances (LD) of our planet.

It should be noted that one LD is considered the average distance between the Earth and the moon, and it is approximately 384,400 kilometres. Even though the distance at which 2019 UG11 will pass may seem huge in human terms, it is undoubtedly very short in astronomical terms, considering the vastness of the universe.

As per space experts, asteroid 2019 UG11 is expected to whiz past Earth safely, certain factors like gravitational keyhole could elevate the chances of a mid-air explosion. If an asteroid measuring 17 meters in length explodes midway in the atmosphere, it could cause structural damages and several casualties in the impacted area. It should be noted that the meteor that exploded in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013 was 20 meters in length and that mid-air explosion smashed windows of several buildings injuring more than 1000 people.

A few weeks back, Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX had called NASA's plan to combat asteroid impact 'Armageddon'. Interestingly, the comments made by Elon Musk came just a few days after NASA roped in SpaceX for their planetary protection mission. The 'Armageddon' comment from Elon Musk that reminded the Hollywood disaster flick even made many people believe that something sinister, most probably a killer asteroid is approaching the earth in the near future.