NASA has issued a warning that a dangerous asteroid is now hurtling towards Earth. Is the planet in danger?
Although most asteroids are located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, several have made their way near Earth in the past. Some of these space pebbles have even sparked an extinction-level catastrophe and had enormous impacts. More than 65 million years ago, an asteroid that collided with Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. NASA has now issued a warning that another one is approaching. But does it endanger the planet?
Asteroid 2022 UM details
A 48 feet wide asteroid named Asteroid 2022 UM is expected to zoom past Earth today, October 18. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 38448 kilometers per hour. The Asteroid 2022 UM is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today at a distance of 2.3 million kilometers. Remarkably, after today, this asteroid will make another close trip to Earth on February 12 next year!
Although this asteroid is not expected to collide with Earth, a slight deviation in its trajectory due to the Earth’s gravitational pull can send the asteroid hurtling towards Earth for an impact. Though you should not be worried as NASA already has a plan in motion to engage in planetary defense to protect the planet against rogue asteroids with the help of its DART Mission.
More about DART Mission
NASA’s first attempt at planetary defense against potentially world-ending asteroids was a success, the space agency has revealed. The aim of the Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART test was to smash a spacecraft into the Dimorphos asteroid to deflect it away from its path. According to NASA, it took Dimorphos 11 hours and 55 minutes to orbit the larger asteroid Didymos. Astronomers studied the collision data using various telescopes and revealed that the orbit time was reduced by almost 32 minutes.
The studies were conducted with the help of various images captured by the spacecraft’s camera named cubeSAT LICIACube which is made up of two key components, LUKE (LICIACube Unit Key Explorer) and LEIA (LICIACube Explorer Imaging for Asteroid), both of which captured key data from the collision.