This asteroid was discovered in the year 2000 and is 800 m high and 500 m in diameter
The Burj Khalifa-sized asteroid is made up of mostly ice and embedded dust particles and approaches Earth when they are nudged by its gravitational pull. (IE Image)
The social media is abuzz with the news of an enormous asteroid approaching the Earth with apocalypse-like scenarios being built up, making users go all panicky. However, the truth of the matter is no such impending disaster has been predicted by the space agencies. The asteroid named 153201 (2000 WO107) will zoom past the Earth from a safe distance after being at its closest at around 10.38 am IST on November 29.
NASA has ruled out any chance of a civilisation -threatening risk as such instances happen once in million years. The asteroid is being compared to the UAE skyscraper ‘Burj Khalifa’
This asteroid, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory website, was discovered in the year 2000. It is 800 m high and 500 m in diameter.
The Burj Khalifa-sized asteroid is made up of mostly ice and embedded dust particles and approaches Earth when they are nudged by its gravitational pull to enter their orbit. They are classified as near-Earth objects. It is also listed as Potentially Hazardous Asteroid based on its potential to make threatening approaches to the Earth. According to NASA any celestial object with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 au has been labelled as Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.
Are there any reasons for concern with Asteroid 153201 (200 WO107) approaching the Earth?
This asteroid in news now will maintain a distance of over 43 lakh km while going past the Earth. This distance is greater than the distance between the earth and the moon, so there is no reason to worry.
The Earth has millions of asteroids revolving with it in their own orbit but of not more than 1 meter in diameter and is hence not considered to be hazardous even if they hit the planet. However, this asteroid is 500 m in diameter and the ones that can cause destruction is larger than 30 meters. According to NASA’s near-Earth observation Programme, the ones that are more than 140 meters or larger can cause high-level devastation to their size (almost like a small football stadium). But it is also held by the agency that no such asteroid has any chance of hitting the Earth in the next 100 years.
However, a meteoroid, a small part of an asteroid or a comet, can impact the Earth once in 2000 years and might cause some serious damage in a particular area where it hits. Asteroids as big as 1 km in diameter are extremely rare and their chances of impacting the planet are even less, like once in 100, 000 years. The probability of comets falling and causing damage is as rare as once in 500,000 years.
Last time such catastrophic damage happened was 66 million years ago when a 10 km width of the asteroid, Chicxulub impactor hit the Earth and erased the dinosaur species from the planet.
Can space agencies deflect approaching asteroids?
Scientists have suggested several ways of deflecting asteroid away from the Earth-like blowing up the asteroid hitting it by a spacecraft before it hits the Earth. The biggest measure taken so far is the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment in collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). The mission’s target was Didymos, an asteroid that could pose a significant threat on Earth in future. The asteroid system came closest to the Earth in November 2003 with a distance of 7.18 million km. It might not come any nearer until November 2123 says space agencies.
NASA has started the construction of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test that will be launched the next year and slam a smaller asteroid of the Didymos system. ESA’s Hera will be launched in 2024 and will reach the Didymos system after three years to unfold what impact a collision between DAT and an asteroid of Didymos can cause and to what extent the asteroid can change its trajectory to known its chances of hitting the Earth.