To track asteroids, 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. As of now, nearly 28,000 near-Earth asteroids have been discovered using various tech instruments which track objects in the sky.
Asteroid 2023 KW2 information
Scientists are intrigued by Asteroid 2023 KW2, due to its colossal size. According to NASA, the asteroid is estimated to be roughly 210 feet wide, which is comparable in size to a large aircraft, possibly the Boeing 747! Given its enormity, if Asteroid 2023 KW2 were to collide with the planet, it could cause immense destruction, particularly if it landed in a densely populated region.
As per the space agency, Asteroid 2023 KW2 is set to reach its nearest distance to Earth tomorrow, June 6, at a distance of 4.5 million kilometers. As a result, it has been added to NASA’s Close Approaches list. While this distance may seem considerable, it’s relatively minor in terms of astronomical measurements, considering the massive size of the asteroid.
In fact, Asteroid 2023 KW2 is already dashing towards Earth, at a fiery speed of 36350 kilometers per hour!
Asteroid impacts in the past
Although asteroids have been safely passing near Earth these past few months, it doesn’t mean a collision with the planet isn’t on the cards. In fact, an asteroid was the reason behind the extinction of one of the largest species on the planet nearly 65 million years ago – dinosaurs.
According to the Alvarez hypothesis, the extinction was caused by a massive asteroid that crashed on Earth more than 65 million years ago. The asteroid terraformed the planet and is likely the reason that started the extinction of dinosaurs. Scientists have even found the impact crater of the asteroid in Chicxulub, near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
And a few years ago, the Chelyabinsk incident happened, and much before that, the Tunguska event. The largest asteroid to hit Earth was around 2 billion years ago and it left behind the Vredefort crater near Johannesburg.
NASA keeps a watch on these asteroids by studying data collected by various telescopes and observatories such as the Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, and the NEOWISE telescope. NASA also has a NEO Surveyor mission planned for launch in 2026 to gain even greater in-depth data using a new orbiter.