Asteroid Weighing 90 Million Tons to Miss the Earth in July 2015

Asteroid

An asteroid weighing 90 million tons will miss the Earth in July 2015, and will merely pass by on Sunday, July 19, at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time/6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The asteroid will be one of the nearest reported space rocks to have crossed the path of planet Earth, and will get 30 times closer than the nearest planet in the solar system. Many stargazers will be able to see the colossal asteroid as it passes by the earth, which could provide a glimpse into the workings of the entire universe.

The asteroid, which has been named Asteroid 2011 UW-158, will be viewable at around 11 p.m. GMT in UK and Europe, and at about 4 a.m. in India on Monday. Many people in India will be able to watch the asteroid live on the Internet on July 20, 2015. Asteroid 2011 UW-158 has a core weighing 90 million tons and is bound to miss the Earth in July 2015. It will pass within a range of 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km) from the Earth. The size of the asteroid is less than half a mile across, and is considered extremely valuable due to its platinum core, which has been valued at a staggering $5.4 trillion.

AsteroidSlooh, which is an online platform for astronomy and offers a telescope for a fee, will be capturing the images as the space rock makes its journey from light years away to get tantalizingly close to the Earth. Slooh is a robotic telescope service that enables people to watch the space rocks live using a web browser with a Flash plug-in. Bob Berman, an astronomer at Slooh, said that it will be an amazing experience to watch the space rock whoosh past the Earth. Berman said that Slooh will be monitoring live as Asteroid 2011 UW-158 passes by the planet from a 30-times-closer range to the Earth compared to the nearest planet. The fly-by will also be streamed live from an observatory in the Canary Islands.

Berman also added that the huge amount of platinum on the asteroid is what makes it unusual. He also hinted about the possibility of humans being able to extract the platinum on UW-158 by mining. Asteroid 2011 UW-158 is composed almost entirely of metal and has been classified as “X-Type.” The space rock has attracted a lot of attention because of the value of the platinum on it. Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company, recently launched a test vehicle from the International Space Station (ISS), starting a mission lasting 90 days to test its control systems and software. The company plans to send its probes far into the solar system to prospect for near-Earth asteroids which are rich in precious metals and resources. It will use its vehicle, named Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R), to test the components, which will later enable them to exploit such space rocks.

Another important part of the missions undertaken by the space probes of Planetary Resources is to find water on the space rocks. The company plans to break it down to hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel, which will allow spacecrafts to continue their exploration missions for a longer duration, and further into deep space. A3R will be testing avionics that would be used in future probes of Planetary Resources and would not be doing any kind of drilling. It will test the system’s resilience in the brutal environment in space.

According to Peter H. Diamandis, co-chairman and co-founder of Planetary Resources, a successful deployment of A3R will be a significant achievement for the company in its efforts to prospect resource-rich space rocks. He said that a team is working towards developing the technology, which will enable humanity to create an economy which is dependent on off-planetary resources, and could change the way of life on Earth forever. Planetary Resources is hopeful that in the near future, it would be able to mine the 90 million tons of precious metal on Asteroid 2011 UW-158, which is bound to miss the Earth in July 2015. In the past, trillions of carats of diamonds were discovered at the site of a meteorite crash which took place millions of years ago in the Siberian region of Russia.

By Ankur Sinha

Sources:
NDTV-90-Million-Tonne Asteroid to Pass by Earth, 30 Times Closer Than Nearest Planet
Daily Mail-Asteroid worth £3 TRILLION in precious metals set to pass Earth on Sunday
Tech Times-Asteroid 2011 UW-158 Will Zoom Past Earth Sunday And It Contains $5.4 Trillion Worth Of Platinum

Your Thoughts?