An asteroid bigger than Statue of Unity to hurtle dangerously close to Earth

Edited By: Abhinav Singh
New Delhi Updated: Aug 05, 2022, 11:24 AM(IST)

The asteroid will pass ‘near’ Earth Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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According to NASA, a 213-meters wide asteroid named 2022 OE02 is expected to come as close as 5.1 million kilometres to Earth. Its size is roughly bigger than India's famous Statue of Unity. 

A report from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory states that a 213-meters wide asteroid named 2022 OE02, larger than the Statue of Unity (182 meters) located in the state of Gujarat, India is expected to come as close as 5.1 million kilometres to Earth. 

NASA has classified the asteroid as a potentially hazardous asteroid; meaning, it is a near-Earth Object (NEO) that poses a significant threat to the planet. 

A slight deviation in its current path and the asteroid might be hurtling towards the earth. However, scientists are assured that the asteroid will safely pass the Earth as the distance, roughly 13 times the average distance between Earth and the moon is far too long to bridge.  

As reported by WION, earlier this year in May, a giant 1,600-foot wide asteroid, larger than the Empire State Building whizzed past the Earth. At the time as well, scientists were concerned with the trajectory of the asteroid.

However, the asteroid, which has made multiple rounds of Earth's orbit in the last few years, safely passed it at a distance of 3.2 million kilometres. It is due to zoom past again in May 2024 but much farther at 6.9 million miles. The next time it’ll come anywhere near as close as this weekend won’t be until May 2163.

Read More: In a few hours, 1,600-ft wide asteroid will come close to Earth, say scientists 

However, NASA has already started its preparation for the worst-case scenario. It has launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission (DART) which, if successful, will be earth's defence mechanism against rogue asteroids. Launched last year in November 2021 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the mission will crash into Dimorphos, a small moon that revolves around the asteroid Didymos. The collision is expected to take place in September or October. 

Watch: Gravitas: NASA plans to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid: Here's Why

DART is the latest of several NASA missions of recent years to explore and interact with asteroids, primordial rocky remnants from the solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago. There are 10,000 known near-Earth asteroids 460 feet in size or greater, but none has a significant chance to hit in the next 100 years.

Read More: NASA to crash spacecraft into asteroid's moon to save Earth

(With inputs from agencies)

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