Asteroid Nears Earth


An asteroid will fly nearby the earth this afternoon.

The asteroid, designated as “Asteroid 1998 QE2” will be 3.6 million miles away from earth at 4: 30 PM today (EDT), according to Fox News.  Viewers can watch it live.  3.6 million miles is 15 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

The asteroid is 1.7 miles wide.  This is the closest that this asteroid will near the Earth in the next two centuries.

Scientists that are part of NASA’s Near Earth Object Project have been looked for an asteroid to come into the neighborhood so that they can gauge how much damage an asteroid could do if it struck the Earth.

CNN reports that this asteroid is dragging its own moon behind it.  This was an unexpected discovery for the Deep Space Network Antenna at Goldstone, California.

That makes this a “binary asteroid.” The moon is 2,000 feet wide and could destroy a city.  A “potential city killers” must be at least 150 yards in diameter NASA astronomers have identified only 10% of the 10,000 “killers” that race closely by the Earth.

So there are many asteroids close to the Earth that no one knows about.

But this binary asteroid will pass by close enough for scientists to study it. There is no chance of this asteroid and its companion striking the Earth, scientists say.  A space rock this size could wipe out our civilization.

Scientists discovered this asteroid on August 19, 1998.  That is why “1998” is part of its name.  The “Q” in the name stands for the month of August.

However, “1998” is not the only asteroid in town.  An asteroid about 55 feet in diameter exploded over Russia on February 15th, shattering windows, damaging buildings, and injuring more than 1500 people.  The Chelyabinsk meteor entered our atmosphere at 41,000 miles per hour, which is 50 times the speed of sound. It exploded 14.5 miles above the Earth.  It was half the size of a football field. Its light was brighter than the sun.  That was the closest a meteor has come.  This was the closet that an object of this size has veered into the Earth.

On the same day, another asteroid passed within 17,200 miles of the earth.  This is closer than the television and weather satellites circling the planet.

There are craters on earth that are evidence that large objects have smashed into our planet in the past.  The biggest, or most famous, smacked into the Earth 65,000,000 years ago, and threw up so much dust that it cut off sunlight, lowered the temperature, and extinguished the dinosaurs.

If an asteroid the size of a house hit us at 30,000 miles per hour it would destroy buildings at least a mile to 1½ mile from ground zero.  This would be a fair amount of damage.  But an asteroid as big as the 20 story building would have as much energy as the biggest nuclear bombs we currently have, 25 to 50 megatons of energy.  That would destroy most major cities in the U.S.

An asteroid a mile wide asteroid would have 1 million megatons of force.  That would be 10 million times more than the atom bomb that fell on Hiroshima. It would demolish everything for 100 to 200 miles from ground zero, damaging everything a thousand miles from that.  It would   most likely block out the sun.  All living things would likely go the way of the dinosaur.

So an asteroid passing by the Earth is more than a curiosity

So what are the odds that an asteroid passing by the Earth would collide with us?    About one in a million, according to Meg Urry, chairwoman of the Department of Physics at Yale University, as reported by CNN.  

But there are many passing asteroids that we don’t know about.





One Response to "Asteroid Nears Earth"

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