A massive 80-foot wide asteroid is headed straight for Earth today, September 19. Here’s what NASA said.
Earth has witnessed numerous close calls with asteroids in the past few months. August was bombarded with asteroid flybys and the month of September is continuing the trend. 3 asteroids passed by Earth closely just yesterday and 2 more are expected to make close approaches with the planet today, with one of them being Asteroid 2022 SF.
Asteroid 2022 SF is heading for Earth today, September 19 at a blistering speed of 60,372 kilometers per hour, according to NASA. It will make its closest approach to the planet at a distance of nearly 5.5 million kilometers. Although Asteroid 2022 SF is not expected to impact the Earth, it has still been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object due to the close proximity by which it will pass Earth.
Asteroid 2022 SF is part of the Apollo group of asteroids. According to the-sky.org, this asteroid takes almost 586 days to complete one orbit of the Sun, during which its farthest distance from the Sun is 275 million kilometers and nearest distance is 135 million kilometers.
A slight deviation in its path due to interaction with the planet’s gravitational field could change its trajectory and send it hurtling towards the Earth.
The tech behind the science: How NASA studies and tracks asteroids near and far
Surveys done by NASA-supported ground-based telescopes – including Pans-STARRS1 in Maui, Hawaii, as well as the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona – have identified thousands of near-Earth objects. And a space-based telescope called NEOWISE has identified hundreds of others while scanning the skies at near-infrared wavelengths of light from its polar orbit around Earth. These gadgets pack the best technologies of the day when they were built, from chips to software.
NASA DART mission set for asteroid impact on September 26
The DART spacecraft recently got its first look at Didymos, the double-asteroid system that includes its target, Dimorphos. According to the information provided by NASA, on September 26, DART will intentionally crash into Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet of Didymos. While the asteroid poses no threat to Earth, this is the world’s first test of the kinetic impact technique, using a spacecraft to deflect an asteroid for planetary defense.
Using observations taken every five hours, the DART team will execute three trajectory correction maneuvers over the next three weeks, each of which will further reduce the margin of error for the spacecraft’s required trajectory to impact.