World Asteroid Day 2021: When Earth nearly collided with an asteroid

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World Asteroid Day 2021 (Image: Pixabay)
World Asteroid Day 2021 (Image: Pixabay)

New Delhi : All thanks to planets like Mars and Jupiter than our planet Earth is protected from large asteroid collisions. However, it does not guarantees complete protection but major ones get avoided. There have been incidents when an asteroid struck our planet.

Nearly 66 million years ago, it is speculated that a asteroid struck Earth and wiped out non-flying dinosaurs and many other species. According to European Space Agency, there are 6,00,000 known asteroids in our Solar System, out of which 10,000 are classified as near-Earth objects (NEOs) because their orbits bring them relatively close to Earth’s path.

On the World Asteroid Day 2021, let’s have a look at the events when Earth nearly had a collision with asteroid.

1. In April this year, an asteroid called 2021 GW4 flew past the planet travelling at the speed of 30,094 kmph. At its closest, the asteroid was just over 19,312 kilometers away from Earth. According to NASA, the asteroid was between 3.5-7.7 meters long.

2. Earlier in March this year, asteroid 2001 FO32 made its closest approach at a distance of about 2 million kilometers. The asteroid flew past the planet at a speed of 1,24,000 kmph, which according to NASA was faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth.

3. Last year, asteroid 2020 CD3 was the second asteroid spotted from the Earth after 2006 RH120, the first temporary satellite that was discovered in September 2006. Measuring between 1.9 and 3.5 metres in diameter, 2020 CD3 was estimated to have a mass of 4,900 kg.

4. In August 2020, a car-size asteroid named 2020 QG was reported to have flown within about 2,950 kilometers of Earth. What was surprising about this event was that NASA did not see the asteroid coming. The Palomar Observatory in California first detected the asteroid about six hours after it flew by Earth. It was reported that the asteroid came towards Earth from the Sun’s direction.

5. On April 29, 2020, another asteroid 1998 OR2 flew past earth. Although the distance between the Earth and the asteroid was 3.9 million miles (6.3 million kilometers), it was significant because of its size. The asteroid has been categorized as a large “potentially hazardous asteroid" becauseover the course of millennia, very slight changes in the asteroid’s orbit may cause it to present more of a hazard to Earth than it does now, mentioned NASA. Measuring one kilometer in width, the asteroid had the potential of destroying life had it hit the planet.

(Information Source