A regular phenomenon is becoming, as we do not have enough problems to deal with on Earth, another giant object in space is clearly right for us. Ctv news Word brings that NASA reports a “massive asteroid”, which probably has more than two football fields closing in our place and will be passing through Earth as of Christmas Day tomorrow. Known as the asteroid 501647 and also designated as “2014 SD224”, the asteroid will be closest to Earth at approximately 3:20 pm ET. The good news is that the asteroid is not going to make contact with the Earth and will come closest, being within 1.8 million miles of the surface.
For home watchers, this means that the asteroid is a fraction of the size seen in popular disaster films. Take for example Deep Impact, which has a comet that is seven miles wide. The current asteroid is estimated to be between 92 and 210 meters (300 to 689 ft), making it about 2% of the size of that famous space object. The asteroid seen at Armageddon, however, was even larger, 600 miles in length and required the expertise of Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.
Note that the asteroid 501647, first seen in August of 2014, is classified as an NEO (Near-Earth Object) and NASA classified it as a “potentially dangerous” Near-Earth Object is. NASA will clearly monitor its course throughout the day. To clarify, “potentially dangerous” near-Earth objects are not specified in such a way as to how close they may be to killing our planet but because of their size. The site also reports that two other NEOs are ready to fly past Earth, but they are much smaller than the asteroid 501647 and are “no threat to the Earth.”
The news of this asteroid comes a few weeks after NASA described it as “an object of unknown origin”. Will skate past Earth on the morning of 1 December. However, it made headlines and spread around the Internet, because during that past, Earth Object Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near the center had a theory about what an object is but Can’t confirm it until it passes. After the skies cleared, it was confirmed that this NEO was a 1960 era Centaur rocket booster. This marked the second time that a rocket stage from a previous launch was caught back in Earth’s orbit as part of the Saturn V rocket of Apollo 12 in 2002 that appears to have passed as well as our planet.
(Cover photo by CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)