Asteroids move in an elliptical orbit around the Sun, and they also rotate while moving, sometimes in an erratic manner. Although asteroids can be found orbiting our Sun between Mars and Jupiter within the main asteroid belt, they can sometimes stray from their trajectory and head towards Earth for a potential surface impact. NASA has recently warned about a similar asteroid that is approaching Earth and is expected to have a close encounter with the planet.
Asteroid 2015 BY310 details
The asteroid, given the name of Asteroid 2015 BY310, has particularly piqued the interest of scientists due to its sheer size. NASA estimates the asteroid to be nearly 470 feet wide, which makes it almost as big as a skyscraper! Due to its size, Asteroid 2015 BY310 could have huge destructive potential if it impacts the planet, especially if it crashes in a densely populated area.
The space agency further revealed that Asteroid 2015 BY310 will make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, March 7, at a distance of 4 million kilometers. In fact, it is already sprinting towards Earth, at a fearsome speed of 27782 kilometers per hour, which is much faster than a hypersonic ballistic missile!
Protection against asteroids
To counter these asteroids which head for Earth for potential impact, NASA has already carried out the testing of its DART Mission for planetary protection. The space agency crashed a spacecraft into an oncoming asteroid to successfully divert it from its path.
Now, ESA is also gearing up to build an early warning system for dangerous asteroids. Called NEOMIR (Near-Earth Object Mission in the InfraRed), the spacecraft would orbit between the Earth and the Sun at the L1 Lagrange Point, finding space rocks that otherwise get lost in the glare of the Sun, as per the ESA.
The NEOMIR mission will act as an early warning system for asteroids 20 meters and larger that cannot be seen from the ground.