Skyscraper-sized asteroid set to zoom past Earth | World News - Hindustan Times
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Skyscraper-sized asteroid set to zoom past Earth

Jan 11, 2022 05:55 AM IST

Nasa recently launched a mission to deliberately smash a spacecraft into an asteroid as a test run to stop a giant space rock from wiping out life on Earth.

A skyscraper-sized asteroid is set to shoot past the Earth at a 3,480,000-mile distance on January 11. The asteroid, named Asteroid 2013 YD48 by Nasa, is bigger than big ben. Nasa has categorised the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object” due to its size and relative proximity to the Earth while shooting past.

An artist's rendering shows an asteroid slowly disintegrating as it orbits a white dwarf star.(AP File Photo/Representative image)
An artist's rendering shows an asteroid slowly disintegrating as it orbits a white dwarf star.(AP File Photo/Representative image)

While it will miss Earth by a long distance, Nasa categorises any asteroid or comet as a Near-Earth Object (NEO) if it comes closer than 1.3au astronomical units, little over the distance between the Earth and the Sun. One au is the equivalent of 93 million miles. Such a large asteroid could a devastating if it crashes into Earth, but 2013 YD48 won’t be close enough to cause any worry.

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The most recent asteroid to hit the planet was eight years ago in Russia which exploded in the atmosphere.

Nasa launches first-of-a-kind mission to kick an asteroid off course

Nasa recently launched a mission to deliberately smash a spacecraft into an asteroid as a test run to stop a giant space rock from wiping out life on Earth. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) blasted off at 10:21pm Pacific Time on November 24, 2021, aboard a SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The goal of the mission is to throw Dimorphos, a "moonlet" around 525 feet wide that circles a much larger asteroid called Didymos, off its course. The spacecraft is expected to hit the asteroid in the fall of 2022, when the binary asteroid system is 11 million kilometres from Earth, almost the nearest point the pair ever get.

"What we're trying to learn is how to deflect a threat," NASA's top scientist Thomas Zuburchen said ahead of the launch.

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