The potentially hazardous asteroid AG33 will make its nearest path to the planet on April 28, 2022, nearly two million miles from Earth which is eight times the average distance between Earth and the moon, just after 10:45 pm ET. Although with an absolute magnitude of 19.41, it is only visible to the largest telescopes. While this space may sound like a big gap, it is a stone’s throw away by cosmic benchmarks.
The object is twice the size of the Empire State Building. The potentially hazardous asteroid will break into Earth’s orbit at 23,300 mph (37,400 km/h), 30 times the speed of sound. Fortunately, it will slide past the planet with no danger of impact.
NASA flags any space object as potentially hazardous when fast-moving and could pose a danger to Earth.
Asteroid 2008 AG33 was first uncovered on Jan. 12, 2008, at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory by surveyors in Arizona. It last zipped past Earth on March 1, 2015. The asteroid swings by Earth roughly every seven years, with a subsequent close flyby forecasted to come on May 25, 2029.
NASA is monitoring Asteroid 2008 AG33. As part of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, it launched a spacecraft to ram them off course on Nov. 24, 2021. China is also in the earlier planning phases of an asteroid-redirect mission.
NASA, China, ESA, and others are working on planetary defense solutions to prevent most asteroids from reaching the planet.
Even if one were to hit the Earth, it would wipe out life. According to NASA:
NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years. Global catastrophes are only triggered when objects larger than .55 miles across smash into Earth.
While more minor asteroids can flatten an entire city, the planet has not yet seen one on an apocalyptic scale that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Live Science: ‘Potentially hazardous’ asteroid twice the size of the Empire State Building will skim past Earth Thursday, NASA says; by Ben Turner
Daily Mail: Asteroid twice the size of the Empire State Building will fly by the Earth TONIGHT at 30 times the speed of sound, NASA says; by Ryan Morrison
New York Post: Enormous ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid to soar past Earth tomorrow; by Harry Pettit
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of 2di7 & titanio44’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Ed Whitman Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain License