While Corona Virus has brought us to a halt, let’s take a look outside the world where things are at quite the opposite pace. A gigantic sized space rock, Asteroid 1998 OR2 , is approaching the earth at an approximate speed of 31319 km per hour. If it hits, it has the capacity to destroy an area as large as the country UK. Worried you might meet the same fate as the dinosaurs? Here are some facts to calm you down.
As is named, Asteroid 1998 OR2, was first sighted in 1998. It, along with another asteroid, makes periodic movements near our orbit. This is why they have earned themselves the status of “potentially hazardous objects”. Claimed to have a maximum radius of 2.05km, this rock takes 3.7 years to complete one orbit. The one that resulted in dinosaur extinction was however 11 km wide! NASA describes Asteroid 1998 OR2 as one that “has the potential to make threatening close approaches to earth”. It will skim by us, this year in April, at a distance of 0.04 AU (astronomical units). This seems like a very close encounter, right? Relax!
One AU is equivalent to the distance between the sun and the earth. Keeping that in mind, 0.04 AU makes 6.4 million km. That’s 16 times the distance between earth and the moon. Now this makes it look like all the panic was pointless, but in space science, it’s actually a very precise distance. In fact, space enthusiasts can see it pass by, on 29th April 2020 at 5:56 am. With the aid of just a small telescope, it can be seen as a slow-moving rock. The asteroid is also expected to visit again in April 2079 when it will reach its closest point and pass by 0.01 AU (1.5 million km) only. Near miss we can say!