“We’re secure. From this one particular.”
That was a quote from NASA’s planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, after a huge asteroid soared narrowly — by cosmic standards — previous the Earth on Wednesday morning, the closest approach by such an object in far more than a decade, according to scientists at NASA.
The asteroid, discovered three years ago and recognized by astronomers as 2014 JO25, is roughly 2,000 feet finish-to-finish, bigger than the Sears Tower in Chicago, although its uncommon shape produced it its size tough to assess before it passed. It was about 1.1 million miles away from Earth — about four.6 times the distance amongst Earth and the moon — when it passed by at about eight:30 a.m. E.S.T.
JO25 — which some enthusiasts have nicknamed “The Rock” following the actor Dwayne Johnson — approached from the direction of the sun. It will be visible by means of telescopes for numerous nights.
The final time a similarly sized asteroid passed inside such a close distance was September 2004, when Toutatis, a 3.1 mile-long asteroid, came inside four lunar distances of Earth.
It is the initial time in 4 centuries that JO25 has been so close to the planet, and the asteroid will not come within a equivalent distance for another 500 years, NASA said in a news release.
Congress gave NASA the process of tracking all huge objects that come inside any reasonable range of Earth. The agency’s Near-Earth Object Observations System tracks any object that is 140 meters (about 460 feet) or bigger that comes within five million miles of the Earth. NASA, using statistical evaluation, projects that there are someplace in between 25,000 and 26,0000 asteroids in that category, even though it has identified only about 7,700 therefore far.
“That’s the present system objective, though we know that asteroids smaller than that, have been they to effect, could do significant damage to a citywide area,” mentioned Mr. Johnson, of NASA. He added that the criteria would keep the agency focused on asteroids that could wipe out a area the size of a state.
Scientists at NASA have stated that such large asteroids have no substantial chance of hitting Earth within the next hundred years. But the agency still requires the time to run drills preparing for such a contingency.
Mr. Johnson, who has been functioning on the dilemma for NASA because 2003 and became its initial planetary defense officer about 15 months ago, mentioned that NASA has proposed a mission notion for how such asteroids would be deflected although still in space, called a kinetic effect method. Two spacecraft would be named upon to nudge an asteroid named Didymos, altering the speed of its orbit as a test of the way a threatening asteroid may possibly be dealt with in the future.
“You only need to have to modify the velocity of the asteroid by a hair, just a centimeter per second,” Mr. Johnson mentioned. “If you do that a few years in advance of influence time, it will make it miss alternatively of hit the Earth.”
That test would take spot in 2022.