NASA recently announced that a newly spotted potentially hazardous asteroid with nearly the size of the tallest skyscraper in the world will fly past Earth on Halloween. This asteroid is named 2022 RMA. It was discovered to have an estimated diameter that falls between 1,083 and 2,428 feet (330 and 740 meters). Its enormous size is just a few meters below the height of the World’s tallest building Burj Khalifa which stood at 2,716-foot-tall (828 m) in height.
NASA closely observed this asteroid and concluded it would fly through Earth’s orbit at around 52,500 mph (84,500 km/h). At this tremendous speed, the massive asteroid will be traveling at about 68 times the speed of sound. The giant asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on November 1 as it will move up to 1.43 million miles (2.3 million kilometers) from Earth. This is about six times the average distance between Earth and the moon.
How NASA Discovered this Asteroid
Asteroid 2022 RMA was first discovered on September 12 of this year. The space rock was closely analyzed and NASA realized that it belongs to the class of potentially hazardous asteroids. Hence, it was recently added to NASA Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) database for further studies. If an asteroid like 2022 RMA mistakenly collides with earth, it can flatten hundreds of kilometers of land, causing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters.
To ensure that we keep a track of all the potentially hazardous asteroids in low earth orbit, NASA has been tracking the locations and orbits of about 28,000 asteroids using the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS). ATLAS was designed as an array of four telescopes with the potential of performing a complete scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours.
Since the sophisticated Alert system became active in 2017, it has discovered over 700 near-Earth asteroids and about 66 comets. ATLAS was powerful enough to spot two asteroids, 2019 MO and 2018 LA before the impact with Earth. 2019 MO impacted the southern coast of Puerto Rico, while 2018 LA struck at the border of Botswana and South Africa. However, they were both small-sized asteroids and were not big enough to cause any damage.
Will an asteroid hit earth in 2022?
If an asteroid will hit the earth anytime soon, it will definitely be a near-earth object. However, NASA has kept close track of the trajectories of entire near-Earth objects. Based on their observations, NASA experts concluded that the Earth will not face any known danger coming from an apocalyptic asteroid impact for the next 100 years. However, astronomers are still observing to ensure that no harm comes to our home planet from asteroid impact in the future.
What would happen if an asteroid hit earth?
The hazardous impact an asteroid will cause on Earth will depend on the size of the asteroid. Space rocks classified as potentially hazardous asteroids can flatten hundreds or thousands of kilometers of land, thereby causing volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters.
In fact, it was an asteroid impact that wipe out the entire civilization of dinosaurs around 66 million years ago. Asteroid impact on Earth is not an event any baby civilization without an advanced space program should home for. However, we are moving closer to the future where we can redirect asteroids using advanced technologies.
Can we deflect asteroids?
NASA successfully impacted an asteroid under its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) on September 26. This is the first time humanity has attempted to redirect asteroids using our available technologies. Since this testing was successful, we should be expecting other advanced technologies that will keep Earth safe from asteroid impacts in the future. China is also building radar systems to detect and deflect asteroids in the future. These basic efforts are established to ensure that our home planet is protected from asteroid impacts in the future.
Asteroid impacts can be devastating. However, we are working on technologies that will keep us safe and protect Earth from future impacts of potentially hazardous space rocks. What do you think about the 2022 RMA asteroid flying past earth on Halloween Day?