NASA has warned that a huge asteroid is hurtling dangerously towards Earth. Will it be a planet-killer?
Another day, another asteroid! NASA has issued an asteroid alert against a space rock that is hurtling towards Earth. The month of September has already seen more than 30 asteroid flybys and October is expected to continue the trend. Although these asteroids pass Earth at a relatively safe distance, they are still classified as Potentially Hazardous Objects due to their close proximity with Earth. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for keeping an eye on the sky for rogue asteroids which could potentially threaten Earth. The organisation has now red-flagged Asteroid 2022 SB9 as it heads for close approach with the planet.
Key details about Asteroid 2022 SB9
According to NASA, Asteroid 2022 SB9 is already on its way towards the planet, travelling at a staggering speed of 32400 kilometers per hour. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth on October 2, at a distance of just 2 million kilometers.
According to the-sky.org, Asteroid 2022 SB9 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids, located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid takes 1590 days to complete one orbit around Earth. During this trip, its maximum distance from the Sun is 649 million kilometers and its minimum distance is 149 million kilometers.
NASA’s tech behind asteroid tracking
To track these asteroids, NASA conducts surveys done using its ground-based telescopes such as the Pans-STARRS1 in Maui, Hawaii, as well to identify thousands of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). NASA can track the orbital path of the asteroid using this infrared data and can even predict its orbit years into the future. As of now, nearly 28,000 near-Earth asteroids have been discovered using various survey telescopes which track objects in the sky.
NASA also has a new impact monitoring system in place which uses an algorithm called Sentry-II to calculate the impact risk of Near-Earth Objects. NASA can track the orbital path of the asteroid using this infrared data and can even predict its orbit years into the future.