A one-kilometer-wide asteroid, known as asteroid 1566 Icarus, flew past Earth Tuesday, June 16, at 10 p.m. (GMT), even as fears continue over an asteroid predicted to make catastrophic impact with Earth in September.
Asteroid Icarus, being monitored closely by NASA, is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, having the potential to impact and devastate the planet if it undergoes even a slight change of course.
The asteroid is being viewed by some doomsday theorists as a harbinger of the predicted September apocalypse.
If, for any reason, it undergoes an unexpected change in trajectory in the future and impacts on Earth, asteroid 1566 Icarus could create a 10- to 15-kilometer crater, trigger a massive explosion equivalent to 6 × 10^4 megatons of TNT, an earthquake equivalent to magnitude-9.4. And if it crashes into the ocean, it could trigger destructive tsunamis sweeping through coastal cities and killing millions of people.
“…[If] an asteroid of size 1 kilometer hit Earth, it would cause a dust cloud which would block out sunlight for at least a year and lead to a deep worldwide winter, exhausting food supplies. The latter is what caused the dinosaur extinction, as well as other major extinctions of smaller creatures in geologic time scales.”
But thankfully, astronomers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that the 1.27 km-wide (0.8 miles) wide asteroid 1566, named after the character in the Greek legend that flew too close to the Sun, will not hit Earth. It will zip past at a speed of 74,200 mph and a distance of 5 million miles (eight million kilometers) at closest approach. This is about 21 times the distance between Earth and Moon, a safe yet uncomfortably close distance on the astronomical scale.
“Icarus, one of the first near-Earth asteroids ever discovered, in 1949, will approach no closer than five million miles away (eight million kilometers).
[But] on June 14, 2090, the asteroid will approach marginally closer, with a close approach distance of about 17 lunar distances (four million miles).”
And barring unforeseen circumstances, experts say the asteroid is unlikely to make impact with Earth in the next hundred years.
Slooh’s robotic telescopes on the Canary Islands are monitoring the asteroid. The online observatory will provide live views of the asteroid as it makes close approach.
According to Slooh, astronomers Will Gater and Bob Berman will join host Eric Edelman to provide expert perspectives during live-streaming of the flyby, which begins at 10 p.m. (GMT) Tuesday, June 16.
Viewers can participate with questions in the live stream via the Twitter hashtag #IcarusCloseUp.
“While the asteroid will pass us at just 21 times the Earth-Moon distance, it’s too dim to see visually in most backyard telescopes.
However, it is well within reach of Slooh’s robotic telescopes and cameras, so during the show anyone can see live views of Icarus as it makes its close approach.”
The experts will discuss the fascinating history of the asteroid, one of the first “near-Earth” asteroids discovered in 1949, which makes close approach to Earth in June at intervals of 9, 19, or 28 years.
It is among asteroids that make very close approach to the Sun (hence the name Icarus).
“Project Icarus” was conducted by a group of MIT graduate students in the late 1960s after Icarus approached Earth at 16 lunar distances, equal to 3.5 million miles. The project considered ways to deflect or destroy an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.
But meanwhile, in the midst of ongoing online hysteria over a massive asteroid that doomsday theorists say will hit the Earth September 22-28, Icarus is receiving attention as harbinger of the predicted catastrophe.
According to online conspiracy theorists, a massive asteroid will hit Earth in September. The impact event will trigger the Rapture and prophetic seven-year tribulation. Conspiracy theorists claim that NASA has briefed the White House about the impending asteroid impact apocalypse and rumors being spread online allege that Jade Helm 15 military exercises scheduled to hold in July in some states of the U.S. are part of preparation for the impact event.
Doomsday theorists also claim that the global elite are preparing underground bunkers to survive the event.
As the rumors of an apocalyptic event in September spread online, NASA issued a statement to calm growing fears.
“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.”
But as the Inquisitr noted, the statement is unlikely to stop the rumors or calm fears.
[Images: YouTube / Kurdistanplaneterium; NASA]