Huge, ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid is hurtling towards Earth

A huge, potentially hazardous space rock, with a diameter of around one kilometer, is hurtling towards our planet.

Asteroid

Dubbed as 2014 JO25, the space rock has one kilometer in diameter. Even though the massive rock is currently hurtling towards our planet—and is labeled as potentially hazardous by NASA—scientists expect it to pass by our planet safely this time.

NASA astronomers say that ‘2014 JO25’ has been designated as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) by the Minor Planet Center. PHA’s are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 7,495,839km (about 4,658,000 miles), which is equal to 19.5 ‘Lunar distances’.

Despite 2014 JO25’s designation as a PHA, projections predict it will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 1.8 million km (4.57 lunar distances).

As explained by NASA, 2014 JO25 was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey in May 2014.  This asteroid will approach within 4.6 lunar distances (0.0118 AU) on 2017 April 19 when it will be among the strongest asteroid radar targets of the year.

According to a NASA statement, the close encounter set to occur on April 19 will be the closest the asteroid approaches Earth in 400 years, and there are not projected future encounters that are expected to occur so close for at least 480 years.

However, astronomers warn that another fly-by is expected to occur in 2091 when the massive space rock will approach neighboring planets, Venus and Mercury.

Scientists warn that two MASSIVE asteroids, with a diameter of around two kilometers, will approach Earth—‘2003 BD44’ and ‘1999 CU3’—but none of them as close as 2014 JO25.

Recently, the US government has proposed a global initiative—called ‘National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy’—to locate over 300,000 Earth-impact risk objects, and prepare for potential collisions that could create an unimaginable catastrophe on Earth.

The report says that while a “civilization-ending” smash with space rocks over the next 200 years is unlikely, the risk of “smaller but still catastrophic NEO impacts is real.”

“Current estimates of the NEO population predict that over 300,000 objects greater than 40 meters [131ft] in size could be an impact hazard to the Earth and have not yet been detected,” the strategy warns.

One of the key goals underpinning the strategy is a desire to build “international support and policies for acknowledging and addressing the potential Earth impact of a NEO.”

“Objectives include: coordinating the communication of detected impact threats within the US Government, as well as with other governments, media, and the public… and developing protocols for international interactions regarding NEO impacts outside of the US territory,” the document states.

Source: Goldstone Radar Observations Planning: Asteroids 2014 JO25 and 2003 BD44

Reference: ‘Potentially hazardous’ kilometre-wide asteroid will fly past Earth this month

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