A newly discovered “potentially dangerous” asteroid nearly as tall as the world’s tallest skyscraper is set to fly past Earth just in time for Halloween, according to NASA.
The asteroidThe building, called 2022 RM4, has an estimated diameter of between 1,083 and 2,428 feet (330 and 740 meters) — just under the height of the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 2,716 feet (828 m). It will fly past our planet at about 52,500 mph (84,500 km/h), or about 68 times the speed of sound. According to NASA (opens in new tab).
At the closest approach in November. 1, the asteroid will come within about 1.43 million miles (2.3 million kilometers). PlaceAbout six times the average distance between Earth and Earth month. By cosmic standards, that’s a very slim margin.
Related: Why are asteroids and comets such strange shapes? (opens in new tab)
NASA classifies any space object within 120 million miles (193 million km) of Earth as a “Near-Earth Object” and classifies any large object within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million km) of our planet as “potentially hazardous”. Once spotted, these potential threats are closely watched by astronomers, who study them with radar for any signs of deviations from their predicted trajectories that could put them on a devastating collision course with Earth.
No danger, but the newly discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass within less than 6 miles of the Moon on November 1st. Perhaps 740 meters across, it will be as bright as mag 14.3, within reach of backyard telescopes. @unistellar That’s pretty close for an asteroid of this size. #2022RM4 pic.twitter.com/Z8khblg3GqOctober 5, 2022
NASA tracks the locations and orbits of about 28,000 asteroids, which Asteroid Impact Early Warning System (ATLAS) — an array of four telescopes capable of performing a total scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours.
Since its launch in 2017, ATLAS has discovered more than 700 near-Earth asteroids and 66 comets. Two of the asteroids detected by ATLAS, 2019 MO and 2018 LA, actually hit Earth, with the former exploding off the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the latter crashing near the border of Botswana and South Africa. Fortunately, those asteroids were small and did not cause any damage.
NASA estimated the trajectories of all near-Earth objects after the end of the century. The good news is that Earth faces no known threat from an apocalyptic asteroid collision for at least the next 100 years. According to NASA (opens in new tab).
But that doesn’t mean astronomers think they should stop looking. While most near-Earth objects, like the planet-destroying comet in the 2021 satirical disaster film “Look Up,” aren’t the end of civilization, recent history has continued to have devastating effects from asteroids. vigilance
For example, a meteor the size of a bowling ball in March 2021 It exploded over Vermont (opens in new tab) With 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of TNT capacity. In 2013, a meteor that exploded in the atmosphere over the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk produced an explosion of about 400 to 500 kilotons of TNT, or 26 to 33 times the energy it released. Hiroshima bomb (opens in new tab). In the 2013 explosion, fireballs rained down on the city and its surroundings, damaging buildings, breaking windows and injuring around 1,500 people.
If astronomers ever spied a dangerous asteroid headed our way, space agencies around the world are already working on possible ways to redirect it. September 26 where the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft diverted the harmless asteroid Dimorphos by suppress it of course (opens in new tab)In the first test of the Earth’s planetary defense system, it changed the asteroid’s orbit by 32 minutes.
China has also offered (opens in new tab) is in the preliminary planning stages of an asteroid redirection mission. 23 by shooting the Long Mart 5 rocket asteroid BennuThe country, which will orbit 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) from Earth between 2175 and 2199, hopes to deflect space rocks from a potentially catastrophic impact on our planet.
Originally published in Live Science.