‘Potentially hazardous asteroid’ bigger than Earth’s tallest building will zoom past us next month


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A “doubtlessly hazardous asteroid” referred to as 2002 AJ129 is ready to fly by Earth at a whopping 67,000 miles per hour subsequent month — however there isn’t a want to fret, scientists say.

The zero.7-mile lengthy physique ─ bigger than the tallest constructing on Earth, Dubai’s half-mile excessive Burj Khalifa skyscraper ─ will rocket previous our planet on Feb. four by 2.6 million miles, giving it no likelihood of hitting us.

Probably hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, aren’t unusual. In response to a 2013 report on NASA’s web site, there are over 1,000 PHAs on the market and presumably extra but to be found.


PHAs are outlined by NASA as Close to-Earth Asteroids “whose Minimal Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) with the Earth is zero.05 [in astronomical units] or much less and whose absolute magnitude is 22.zero or brighter.”

One astronomical unit is 149,597,870,700 meters (roughly 93 million miles), or roughly the typical distance between the Earth and the Solar.

2002 AJ129 is anticipated to be the biggest and speediest area object to whiz previous the Earth in 2018, based on the Atlanta Journal Structure.

Astronomers virtually unanimously agree that no PHA-sized asteroid, significantly these of the near-Earth selection, will hit our planet over the subsequent 100 years. Nonetheless, Paul Chodas, Paul Chodas, Supervisor of the NASA NEO Program Workplace at JPL, mentioned there are 46 that would doubtlessly hit throughout the subsequent 100 years. “These are those we have to take note of and we’re monitoring them,” Chodas advised Fox Information in a telephone interview.

He added that these asteroids have roughly a 1 in 10 million likelihood of hitting the Earth. If one in all this measurement have been to hit us, it may trigger some severe harm. 

When discussing the Three-mile huge 3200 Phaethon, which flew previous Earth in mid-December, Boston College astronomy professor Michael Mendillo advised Time that an asteroid of this measurement “can be this type of object that might trigger a catastrophic collision, ought to there be one,” earlier than including that it’s extremely unlikely. 

Along with the aforementioned 3200 Phaethon and 2002 AJ129, Earth has had some close-calls with big area rocks in current months.

In August 2017, a 2.7-mile huge asteroid dubbed Florence handed by Earth at a secure distance of four.four million miles, roughly 18 instances the gap between Earth and the moon. And in October, 2012 TC4, an area rock estimated to measure between 50 and 100 ft, handed safely previous Earth by 26,000 miles and was used to check Earth’s worldwide warning community.


Saving humanity 

If an asteroid have been to ever threaten the Earth, NASA has a plan to battle it off.

In June, the company unveiled a video utilizing Three-D modeling strategies and one in all its supercomputers in an effort to provide simulations on a wide range of asteroid affect eventualities.

The work is being achieved by consultants on the Asteroid Risk Evaluation Undertaking on the NASA Superior Supercomputing facility at Ames Analysis Middle in California’s Silicon Valley. The efforts are at the side of NASA’s Planetary Protection Coordination Workplace. 

The analysis has been shared with a lot of totally different events, together with college scientists, nationwide analysis labs and totally different authorities businesses.

The work follows an asteroid collision in 2013 within the Russian metropolis of Chelyabinsk. The blast from the asteroid injured greater than 1,200 individuals and broken buildings 58 miles away.

Individually, in 2016, NASA opened a brand new workplace to trace asteroids and comets that come too near Earth, referred to as the Planetary Protection Coordination Workplace (PDCO).

NASA has been finding out Close to-Earth Objects (NEOs) for the reason that 1970s. In response to the PDCO, NASA-funded survey tasks have discovered greater than 95 % of the recognized catalog of over 15,000 NEOs.

Fox Information’ James Rogers contributed to this report. Observe Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia. This story has been up to date to notice one astronomical unit is 149 billion meters, not miles.

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