An aircraft-sized asteroid could come extremely close to Earth today, NASA has revealed. Know about its speed, distance and more.
According to NASA, asteroids can generally be spotted within the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Interaction with a planet’s gravitational field, especially as large as Jupiter, can knock the asteroid off-its orbit and send it hurtling in all directions. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office keeps a check on these Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) for any potential collision with Earth and declares them as Potentially Hazardous Objects if they come within around 8 million kilometers of Earth. The same organization has issued an alert against an asteroid which is all set to pass Earth very closely today.
Asteroid 2022 VM2 key details
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has red-flagged an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 VM2 due to its extremely close approach with the planet. The asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth today, November 18, at a distance of 3.1 million kilometers per hour. This 76-foot is already on its way towards the planet travelling at a speed of nearly 13345 kilometers per hour, nearly matching the speed of a missile!
According to the-sky.org, the Asteroid 2022 VM2 belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. It was discovered recently on October 26. This asteroid takes 552 days to complete one trip around the Sun during which its maximum distance from the Sun is 244 million kilometers and nearest distance is 150 million kilometers.
NASA technology used in asteroid tracking
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.
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.