No, A Giant Asteroid Won’t Skim Past Earth On Friday, But Observatory Closures Mean We Might Not Be Prepared When One Does
The rumors that a giant asteroid is going to skim past earth on Friday have been greatly exaggerated. And while it’s true that the rock will fly past earth, it will do so without even coming close to making a dent.
According to the Huffington Post, the asteroid will travel past earth at a speed of 23,000 mph and it will end up being 0.03 astronomical units away from the globe. That might sound a little too close for comfort for some; however, 0.03 astronomical units measures to 2,788,674 miles.
And just in case that is still too near, 2,788,674 miles is the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back from Earth almost 6 times. That means that people won’t even notice the asteroid skimming past; however, it will still be of use to astronomers.
The asteroid was previously known as 2014-YB35, and according to NASA’s Goldstone Asteroid Schedule, it measures 1,640 feet in diameter.
NASA have been keeping an eye on 2014-YB35 though because it will pass within 4.6 million miles of Earth. But rather than being an anomaly, there are 1,564 other asteroids that NASA are examining and watching too.
According to Forbes, this is the eighth time that 2014-YB35 has passed by earth in the last 100 years. This is actually the closest that the asteroid has come to our planet in this time. However, the next time it comes near to us in 2033, it will be even closer.
Interest in asteroids striking earth has increased ever since one hit the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. When it struck earth, it detonated thirty times more power than the atom bomb on Hiroshima, and in the process injured 1,000 people. In fact it’s believed that since 2000 at least 24 similar impacts to that of Chelyabinsk have occurred, most of which have landed in the ocean or burned up in atmosphere.
Alarmingly, there is a reason to believe that we are now worse off when it comes to tracking these space rocks than we were in 2013. That’s because Siding Spring Survey, the Australian observatory that scans the sky for comets and asteroids in the southern sky, was recently closed because of a lack of funding.
Brad Tucker, an astronomer who works for Siding Spring Survey, told Vice in October 2014, “We expect something like the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor to hit Earth once every ten to 20 years. That’s not too often, but when something like that occurs you’re essentially detonating a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere.”
[Image via All Trends Magazine]