A ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid will zoom past Earth this week

An Empire State Building-size asteroid is heading past Earth this week

NASA expects a potentially hazardous asteroid to zoom past Earth later this week. The asteroid’s approach can be seen in more detail on the NEO Earth Close Approaches list, which NASA keeps updated. Based on observations, the asteroid is between 42 to 92 feet in diameter. It will zoom past the Earth at more than 20,000 mph, but it won’t pose any threat to our planet.

A potentially hazardous asteroid will zoom past Earth this week

Astronomers named the asteroid in question 2015 FF. At its closest approach, the asteroid will travel at around 27 times the speed of sound, Livescience notes. Additionally, it will come within around 2. 67 million miles of the Earth. This is eight times the distance that Earth travels to its Moon. It won’t pose a direct threat to Earth, but such an approach by a potentially hazardous asteroid is concerning.

Just because an asteroid doesn’t aim at Earth does not make it less dangerous. Any asteroid that is labeled “potentially dangerous” doesn’t mean it poses a threat to Earth. NASA just labels any celestial object that comes within 120 million miles of Earth as a near-Earth object. Additionally, any object that comes within 4. 65 million miles is considered potentially hazardous. That’s where 2015 FF lands.

The asteroid itself doesn’t pose a threat to Earth at the moment. However, an asteroid with the same size and traveling along a route to make a direct contact with Earth, could be dangerous for cities. Currently, NASA knows the orbit of around 28,000 asteroids. It keeps track of all of these asteroids so that astronomers can watch them as they pass and for any signs of danger.

Fighting hazardous space objects

2015 FF might not pose a direct threat, but there may one day be an asteroid that does. We’ll have to prepare for potentially dangerous asteroids when that happens. NASA’s redirection system is one way to deal with this type of problem. The space agency will test its D.A.R.T system this year, which will try to redirect an asteroid in a few months.

Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how that goes, but other space agencies are working on similar systems. As well as systems that can detect and monitor potentially hazardous asteroids.

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