NASA says 280-foot asteroid set to approach Earth! Know how close it will get - Hindustan Times
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NASA says 280-foot asteroid set to approach Earth! Know how close it will get

Apr 20, 2024 10:18 PM IST

This is Asteroid 2024 GM and it will get very close to our planet - some 4,450,000 miles.

While small asteroids keep zipping past Earth at fairly regular intervals some of the bigger ones are not that frequent. And now, US space agency NASA says that one asteroid that is as big as 280 feet is all set to get very close to Earth tomorrow, April 21. This makes it as big as a building. Just imagine what will happen if something as large smashes into the Earth! This is Asteroid 2024 GM and it will get very close to our planet - some 4,450,000. However, don’t start looking up in concern as this asteroid is not expected to get any closer than this. It will pass Earth and go back into the deep solar system where it came from.

Asteroid moonlet Dimorphos as seen by the DART spacecraft 11 seconds before impact in this image taken by DART’s on board DRACO imager from a distance of 68 kilometers, and released September 26, 2022.(via REUTERS)
Asteroid moonlet Dimorphos as seen by the DART spacecraft 11 seconds before impact in this image taken by DART’s on board DRACO imager from a distance of 68 kilometers, and released September 26, 2022.(via REUTERS)

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NASA and other space agencies keep a close watch on these space rocks simply to make sure that none of them stray too close. After all, as the Moon’s pock-marked face shows, it has been hit by such rocks a lot in its history. The same can be said of Earth, but most of the signs of these crashes have been weathered away by the Sun, wind, water and other natural phenomena. On the Moon, there is virtually no weathering.

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That the danger is real is clear from the fact that NASA has even tested an Earth protection system that it called DART - Double Asteroid Redirection Test. The mission was to crash a NASA spacecraft at top speed against an asteroid in an attempt to make it change its direction and orbit forever. This was done successfully against a binary asteroid system made up of Didymos and Dimorphos. In fact, the test was so successful and so much material of the asteroid was displaced that some of it may even crash on Mars.

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In a post on X, NASA Asteroid Watch said, “The #DARTMission proved that an impactor could deflect a hazardous asteroid, should one ever be on a collision course with Earth. A new study shows DART's test impact changed not only the motion of a small asteroid, but also its shape.”

How NASA tracks asteroid near Earth

Notably, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office detects, tracks, and characterizes Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) to enable mitigation of potential future NEO impacts.

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All the data comes to the Minor Planets Center via a number of Earth- and sky-based trackers/observatories such as Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, and NEOWISE mission. Among the planetary radar projects is JPL’s Goldstone Solar System Radar Group and then there is NEO Observations Program.

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