A giant asteroid, estimated to be up to 1.3 km in diameter, is heading our way and will pass close by next month. The potentially dangerous asteroid, named 138971 (2001 CB21), will reach 4.5 million km. But scientists say there’s no need to worry, as the asteroid will be about 13 times the average lunar distance at its closest point. However, the celestial object will be traveling at a staggering speed of over 26,800 miles per hour. The close encounter will take place on March 4 at around 3:00 am ET (1:30 pm IST).
An astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy captured an image of the asteroid heading our way on January 30th. Gianluca Masi, the astronomer, found the object using an Earth-based telescope when it was about 35 million kilometers away.
In the image shared on web site from the Virtual Telescope Project, the asteroid can be seen as a small white dot highlighted by an arrow in the center. It was captured during a single 420-second exposure, taken remotely with the “Elena”, a robotic telescope unit.
ONE report in Newsweek said that the asteroid completes one orbit of the Sun in 384 days, a little longer than it takes Earth to go around the Sun. The asteroid’s classification as “potentially dangerous” does not mean it can hit us. It means he’s able to get very close to us. The classification also takes into account the size of the asteroid. Last month, another asteroid came relatively close to Earth. Called 7482 (1994 PC1)it was over a kilometer wide and whizzed past the Earth on January 18.
While no threat of an asteroid collision has been detected so far, NASA is working on building the capability to deal with this situation if it occurs in the future. He launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission to crash a spaceship into an asteroid to give it a push to change its trajectory. The accident is not expected until September-October 2022.