NASA has reported that a 104-foot wide asteroid called 2013 TJ6 will make its closest approach to the Earth on October 7. Is there a risk of asteroid impact? Find out.
Near Earth Objects are the asteroids that orbit and move among the inner planets of the solar system. There are over 20,000 such asteroids that have been discovered so far, and many carry the potential of one day slamming into the Earth and causing a major catastrophe. The NASA NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) telescope is among the tech marvels that have been tasked to spot and monitor such asteroids to help the space agency plan ahead in case one of them threatens to impact. And on October 7, a 104-foot wide asteroid will be one of those that the NEOWISE will be closely observing. This asteroid will be coming dangerously close to the Earth and poses a threat of an asteroid strike. But will it? Read on to find out.
According to the NASA Small-Body database, this asteroid has been named 2013 TJ6. The ‘2013′ in its name denotes the year it was first discovered. The asteroid has made multiple close approaches to the Earth ever since, but this one is going to be the closest. At a distance of 4.4 million kilometers, the asteroid may not seem as threatening, but scientists know that the distance is very small for these space rocks traveling at extremely high speeds. The 2013 TJ6 for example, is traveling at a speed of 51,732 kilometers per hour. That is nearly 50 times faster than the speed of sound. If the asteroid were to take an unexpected deflection, it could crash into our planet within hours and cause massive destruction.
However, as per current projections, the asteroid is likely to make a safe passage across the planet. But the NEOWISE telescope will continue monitoring it till October 7 to make sure that it does not come closer than its intended distance.
NEOWISE plays an important role in planetary defense
Launched in 2009, NEOWISE space telescope was reassigned to observe asteroids and other near Earth objects in 2013. The telescope operates on an infrared spectrum allowing it to see objects that even escape the eye. It uses four bands of the spectrum — 3.4, 4.6, 12 and 22 micrometers — to observe any space rock moving towards us in the inner circle of the solar system.