This drifting chunk from the void will enter our planet’s vicinity tomorrow, NASA has informed. The icy clump of iron and other elements is on an Earth intersecting orbit and is pommeling forwards at a breakneck 30,900 mph. Calculations by NASA scientists predict that the asteroid will pass within a few million miles of the planet’s surface.
The celestial visitor is known as asteroid 2019 TR2 and was discovered earlier this month, being first spotted on October 5.
NASA notes this rogue space rock is approximately 394ft (120m) across and has been classified by NASA as Apollo asteroids.
These class of asteroids have very wide elliptical orbits taking them around the Earth and Sun.
From time to time, the orbits of these asteroids intersect with that of Earth as the planet goes around the giant star.
As Apollo asteroids complete their voyage, they also pass near other planets such as Res Planet Mars.
If the asteroids approach these planets at very close distances, they can get affected by their gravitational pull, altering the space rocks’ trajectories.
If this were to happen, the asteroids could theoretically end up on a collision course with Earth.
An impact event caused by any of these asteroids, including 2019 TR2, would decimate large regions of the planet.
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Over the past 21 days, the space agency has kept the hefty space rock under close observation, gathering as many measurements of its position in the sky and developing computer models of its orbit around the sun.
NASA explained: “The more observations that are used and the longer the period over which those observations are made, the more accurate the calculated orbit and the predictions that can be made from it.”
In this particular case, NASA used 76 observations of the rock’s trajectory.
Alexandra Lozovschi said in the Inquisitr that this will be the first and closest approach to Earth for asteroid 2019 TR2.
The rock has never before passed through our corner of the solar system.
The space enthusiast explained that over the next 123 year, the asteroid will return to our corner of space four more times, with its next flyby occurring in 2023.
She went on to explain that the only time the rock will approach at a comparable distance will be in 2138, when it will pass within 5.2 million miles of Earth.
This is the latest in a string of close asteroid approaches that have brought space rocks of all sizes within a relatively short distance from Earth.
Source: Daily Express :: Science Feed