The 2002 asteroid AJ129 will make its closest approach to Earth on February 4, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT). As you get closer, the asteroid will not be less than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
In recent days, some media reported (in some cases, rather) sensationally) that a "potentially dangerous" asteroid will fly close to Earth on February 4. Are the reports correct? Absolutely! Is there any need to panic? Absolutely not!
It is true that the asteroid of the size of the 2002 AJ129 construction will pass through the Earth at about 10 times the distance from Earth to the Moon (about 2.6 million miles, or 4.2 million kilometers), according to NASA. The asteroid measures approximately 0.3 to 0.75 miles (0.5 to 1.2 km) in diameter; in comparison, the tallest building in the world is 0.51 miles (0.82 km) tall, while the new World Trade Center building in New York is 0.33 miles (0.53 km) high.
The representatives of NASA say that there is no possibility of it colliding with Earth.
"We have been following this asteroid for more than 14 years and we know its orbit very accurately," Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the POT. "Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance, zero, of colliding with Earth on February 4 or at any time during the next 100 years."
However, without context, the approach of the 2002 asteroid AJ129 might seem remarkable. But what many media did not mention is that rocks of this size fly close to Earth with some regularity; In fact, two space rocks came much closer to our planet this week.
Yesterday (January 18), the asteroid the size of the 2018 BD car (discovered just this year) reached 0.09 times the distance from Earth to the Moon (approximately 21,500 miles or 34,600 km), according to the Solar System of the NASA Dynamics Website and the Minor Planet Center . And the 2018 BX Asteroid, which is also the size of a car or bus, will make its next overflight of Earth late tonight (Eastern Time of the US on January 19) and will go through Earth at a distance of approximately 0.073 times the distance from Earth to the Moon (approximately 174,400 miles or 280,670 km).
While the space rocks are smaller than 2002 AJ129, they reached the altitude range where some communications and GPS satellites orbit, which means that the worst case scenario could have involved a collision between one of the space rocks and a satelite.
Asteroids much larger than 2002 AJ129 also make relatively close overflights of the Earth with some regularity. On September 1, 2017, the 2.7-mile wide Asteroid Florence passed to approximately 4.4 million miles (7 million km) from Earth, or about 18 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. Another asteroid the size of a bus, known as 2017 SX17, was extended to 54,100 miles (87,065 kilometers) from Earth on October 2, 2017.
Although NASA designated 2002 AJ129 as a "potentially dangerous" asteroid, It is important to note that this designation is granted to any asteroid over 460 feet (140 m) in diameter that approaches 4.65 million miles (7.48 million km) to Earth.
Near-Earth asteroids may pose a threat to the inhabitants of planet Earth, but remember that not all space rocks should be feared.