NASA has been put on alert as it expects a huge asteroid to make a close approach with Earth on October 2. Here’s what the space agency said.
What if an asteroid is headed for Earth? What would happen if any of the stray asteroids in the solar system hit Earth? Could we save ourselves from total annihilation? If such questions have crossed your mind, then your questions could get answered soon, thanks to NASA’s DART Mission which took place on September 26. Although the collision was successful, it is yet to be confirmed if the asteroid was actually deflected. For this, NASA and other space organizations will study the data around the impact site with the help of European Space Agency’s Hera spacecraft. In the meantime, NASA has warned that a huge asteroid is headed for Earth.
Asteroid 2018 ER1
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office is responsible for monitoring the skies for any potential impact. It red-flags Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) as Potentially Hazardous Objects if they come within 7.5 to 8 million kilometers of Earth. Asteroid 2018 ER1 has also been red-flagged by the organization.
Asterid 2018 ER1 is set for close approach with Earth on October 2 at a distance of 5.6 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, speeding at nearly 14400 kilometers per hour. This asteroid will make another trip to Earth soon as its next closest approach will be October 8, 2023. Asteroid 2018 ER1 ranges between 65 feet and 148 feet in size.
ESA’s involvement in the DART Mission
European Space Agency’s Hera spacecraft will observe the impact caused by the collision of DART spacecraft and Dimorphos asteroid. ESA has already launched its Hera spacecraft which will travel to the same asteroid to observe the impact.
The Hera spacecraft will fly to the asteroid to survey the aftermath of impact and gather information such as the size of impact crater, the mass of the asteroid and its make-up and internal structure using its CubeSAT satellite to conduct a radar probe of the asteroid after the collision.