A huge asteroid will come terrifyingly close to Earth in a close encounter today. This asteroid has got NASA on alert. Will there be an asteroid collision with Earth?
Astonishingly, asteroids are rocky remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago. They come in all shapes and sizes, with the largest asteroid measured at a humongous 530 kilometers in diameter called Vesta. Asteroids can impact Earth and cause major damage to both life and property, with the most recent incident being the Chelyabinsk disaster when the space rock entered Earth’s atmosphere over the southern Ural region in Russia on February 15, 2013 and caused damage worth nearly $33 million. But will this upcoming asteroid impact the planet and cause damage to life or limb? All of this information is being calculated live through various technologies employed by NASA and that is where we get to know about it.
Asteroid 2022 SC1 to whizz past Earth today, September 20
An 80-foot wide asteroid named Asteroid 2022 SC1 is expected to zoom past Earth tomorrow, August 31. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 36,936 kilometers per hour. The Asteroid 2022 SC1 is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today September 20, at a distance of 5.5 million kilometers. Remarkably, after today, this asteroid is not expected to make another close approach to Earth till the next century!
Although this asteroid is not expected to collide with Earth, a slight deviation in its trajectory due to the Earth’s gravitational pull, or some other reason, can send the asteroid hurtling towards Earth and a collision may ensue. Though you should not be worried as NASA already has a plan in motion to engage in planetary defense against rogue asteroids called the DART Mission.
NASA DART Mission – All about the tech
A NASA mission is in the works to deflect an asteroid off the collision course with Earth by smashing a simple but technologically awesome spacecraft into it at a staggering speed of 23,000 kmph. In effect, the tech has turned the spacecraft not just into a satellite beaming data, but also a destructive missile. The mission is named Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART. Double Asteroid Detection Test or DART Mission is a $240 million mission by NASA to protect the Earth from a potential asteroid impact.
The camera on the spacecraft is a marvel in itself. NASA’s Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical navigation (DRACO) took pictures of the target asteroid in July using 243 composite images.
Notably, after the collision, another specialised and tech-enabled spacecraft, the European Space Agency’s Hera spacecraft, will fly to the asteroid to survey the consequences of the 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.