NASA has revealed that a skyscraper-sized asteroid could pass Earth at extremely close distance today.
NASA keeps a watch on asteroids by studying data collected by various telescopes and observatories such as the Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey and the NEOWISE telescope. With the help of these high-tech instruments, the space agency has discovered a monstrous asteroid heading dangerously towards Earth today. It is nearly the size of a skyscraper! It was classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid due to the close proximity of its encounter with Earth. Here’s what you need to know about this asteroid.
Asteroid 2015 RN35 key details
The asteroid, named Asteroid 2015 RN35, is already on its way towards the planet. The gigantic 270-foot space rock, which is nearly the size of a skyscraper, is set to make its closest approach to Earth today, December 15, at a distance of just 686,000 million kilometers! That is only double the distance of the Moon from Earth! According to NASA, the asteroid is speeding towards Earth at a staggering 21276 kilometers per hour.
Asteroid 2015 RN35 was discovered back on September 9, 2015, and it belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids. According to the-sky.org, the asteroid completes its orbit around the Sun in around 654 days. During this orbit, its farthest distance from the Sun is 297 million kilometers while the nearest distance is 144 million kilometers.
How NASA studies and tracks asteroids: Tech explained
Surveys done by NASA-supported ground-based telescopes – including Pans-STARRS1 in Maui, Hawaii, as well as the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona – have identified thousands of near-Earth objects. And a space-based telescope called NEOWISE has identified hundreds of others while scanning the skies at near-infrared wavelengths of light from its polar orbit around Earth. NASA uses its ground-based radar to gather precise data about the asteroid’s path and its characteristics.
NASA also has a new impact monitoring system in place which uses an algorithm called Sentry-II to calculate the impact risk of Near-Earth Objects. The space agency has a NEO Surveyor mission planned for launch in 2026 to gain even greater in-depth data using a new orbiter.