Another pair of asteroids is going to whiz past Earth on 14 September — Bigger, faster but further away
- Dual asteroids are rare and even more infrequent when they are big in size.
- Asteroid 467317 (2000 QW7) is as big as the Shanghai Tower — the second tallest building in the world.
- The two asteroids are set to pass by Earth in the same 24-hour window on 14 September 2019.
The first asteroid, which will be bigger than the Empire State Building and India’s own Statue of Unity, is set to whiz past Earth at a speed of 23,000 kilometers per hou.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) estimates that the asteroid dubbed 467317 (2000 QW7) could be anywhere between 290 meters to 650 meters in diameter.
So, at its largest, the asteroid measures around the same size as the Shanghai Tower — the second tallest building in the world.
And, it won’t be alone.
In the same 24-hour window, Asteroid 504800 (2010 CO1), estimated to be between 120 meters to 260 meters in diameter, will be flying past the planet at a speed of 51,696 kilometers per hour.
Both them of them are going to be around 5.3 million kilometers from Earth as they make their visit.
This is the second time in the span of a month that dual asteroids are whizzing past the planet. On 28 August 2019, two asteroids — 2019 OU1 and 2019 QS— flew past Earth within hours of each other.
Don’t fear, but who’s gonna be there?
NASA’s Center of Near Earth Object Studies is tracking both the asteroids and do not seem to pose any danger as of now.
Should that change, NASA’s current defense plan against any incoming asteroids is the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) — which is still under development.
Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX, opines that, “A big rock will eventually hit Earth eventually and we currently have no defence.”
In June, astronomers have already shown that in case an asteroid poses a threat — then can move people out of harm’s away in time.
When asteroid 2019 MO was barrelling towards Earth on 22 June 2019, scientists at the University of Hawaii used the ATLAS and Pan-STARRS telescopes to detect the asteroid’s path.
They were able to confirm that the asteroid would burn up in the atmosphere, over the ocean, 400 kilometers away from San Juan.
ATLAS, which is actually two telescopes in Hawaii — one on Big Island and the other on Maui — scans the skies every two days for asteroids that could be heading towards Earth.
It claims to be able to detect small asteroids 12 hours in advance and bigger asteroids will be on their radar days before they’re anywhere near Earth.
What happens when an asteroid actually hits Earth
An asteroid only turns into a meteor if it falls to Earth
The last major asteroid to hit Earth destroyed 500 square kilometers — and it could have been much worse