Earth just had a new visitor you would wish would not have. However, we were saved miraculously as an Asteroid just missed Earth this Thursday.
The asteroid was not a tiny one to be ignored. It is named ‘city killer’ for a reason. The asteroid whizzed past Earth and if it was close enough could have caused havoc.
Asteroid “City Killer” Details
It is estimated that the rock was 60-130 meters wide (approximately 190 to 430 feet). It went past Earth from nearly 73,000 kilometres (45,000 miles) away. That is approximately 1/5th distance of Earth to Moon. It was travelling at a speed of 24 Kilometers per second.
— ASAS-SN (@SuperASASSN) July 25, 2019
Moreover, if the asteroid landed on Earth with full force it would have been equal to bombing 30 atomic bombs. The question arises, How did an asteroid so big swept so quickly without anyone noticing?
Well, two astronomy teams already sniffed the presence or incoming of this space rock on Wednesday itself. The further details of its size, weight and impact were made just hours before it went cruising near Earth. Still, no defensive mechanism could be deployed so quickly so as to counter such events.
However, the space rock was big, but not that big to be worried about. Astronomer Michael Brown gave an interview to the post. He explained,
“People are only sort of realizing what happened pretty much after it’s already flung past us.”
Also, it is true that the rock was visible with binoculars but that was when it was the closest to Earth. “Three days before that it was 1,000 times fainter, and thus harder to spot,” explained Brown.
“It shook me out my morning complacency,” he said. “It’s probably the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in quite a number of years,” Brown added.
The amount of time the asteroid spent in the detectable range of Earth was very less. Also, the elliptical path which was followed by the rock made it hard for astronomers to predict its position. Its path went from Mars to Venus, thus the time slot of detection near Earth was very less.
The last-minute predictions and detections still prove that humans have a lot more to explore in the universe. Nothing is yet certain as to what else we may find in space. Brown also added, “still dangerous asteroids out there that we don’t know of” that “can arrive on our doorstep unannounced.”
However, according to Alan Duffy a professional astronomer there are two possible solutions to these problems. Duffy explains, “Scientists are working on developing at least two approaches to deflecting potentially harmful asteroids”.
“One strategy involves gently pushing the asteroid slowly over time off its course and away from Earth, he said. The other, which he called a “very elegant solution,” is the gravity tractor. If an asteroid is detected early enough, it could be possible to divert it using the gravity of a spacecraft, according to NASA.”
The basic solution which all of us would have thought is nuking the asteroid. However, it is highly probable that instead of destroying the rock, it would turn it into a radioactive flying space rock. Thus, the idea of nuking it is the last moment solution.
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