Asteroid bigger than Eiffel Tower to enter Earth's orbit soon

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Dec 03, 2021, 01:11 AM IST

Representative image Photograph:(AFP)

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This asteroid comes in Earth's neighbourhood often. Read on to know what is going to happen this time

All end-of-the-world thrillseekers have a reason to rejoice as a huge asteroid is due to break into Earth's orbit. The asteroid isn't too small. It's bigger than Eiffel Tower.

It measures about 1082 foot. NASA has its eye on Asteroid 4660 Nereus. This asteroid is a frequent visitor to Earth's neighbourhood as orbit comes pretty close to that of Earth. So much so that the asteroid has been placed in 'potentially hazardous' category.

The asteroid was spotted by astronomer Eleanor Helin in 1982.  

This time, the closest approach is slated to take place on December 10. Although Asteroid Nereus has been classified as 'potentially hazardous', it's a relief that it will shoot past Earth and there is no threat of collision with Earth.

The asteroid is travelling at a speed of 14,700 miles per hour. It will shoot past Earth at a distance of 2.4 million miles.

Asteroids are serious business. Ask dinosaurs. Wait, they aren't here courtesy of a space rock that collided with Earth.

We know this and that's why countries and space agencies around the world are busy drawing plans of what should be done if a sufficiently large space-rock is on collision course with Earth.

One of the options that has been talked about a lot is nuking the rogue asteroid to pieces. While this may theoretically sound well there are concerns about Asteroid breaking into several parts and still hitting Earth. There is also the issue of radiation arising from the nuclear explosion.

NASA is hence testing whether an incoming asteroid can be nudged away from Earth by crashing a spacecraft on it. NASA's DART mission is aiming to test this way of planetary defence. The mission has been launched and the spacecraft is due to crash into the asteroid in September 2022