Asteroid threat today! NASA satellites track aircraft-sized Asteroid 2023 KX hurtling towards Earth
There have been numerous asteroid impacts on Earth in the course of its 4.6 billion-year-old history but a handful of them stand out. One of the earliest asteroid impacts on Earth was around 4.5 billion years old when a massive object called Theia, about the size of Mars, collided with Earth and resulted in the formation of the Moon. Another asteroid crashed in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico nearly 65 million years ago, and it wiped out the dinosaurs. The most recent asteroid impact happened just a decade ago when an asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in 2013. The largest asteroid to hit Earth was around 2 billion years ago
The increasing number of asteroids that pass Earth closely has made it imperative for space agencies such as NASA and ESA to continuously monitor them, and another one is set to pass Earth closely today. Know the asteroid’s details here.
Asteroid 2023 KX details
According to details revealed by NASA, an asteroid, identified as Asteroid 2023 KX, is close to Earth, traveling at 57350 kilometers per hour. It will make its closest approach to the Earth today, May 26, at a distance of 6.1 million kilometers.
It belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids which are Earth-approaching asteroids with orbits exterior to Earth but interior to Mars’, named after asteroid 1221 Amor.
In terms of size, NASA estimates it to be around 75 feet and 167 feet wide, making it almost as big as an aircraft! Although NASA scientists estimate that an asteroid would have to be about 96 km wide to completely and utterly wipe out life on Earth, smaller asteroids such as Asteroid 2023 KX also have the potential to cause damage up to some extent. For example, the asteroid which exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk was just 59 feet wide. When it exploded, it damaged nearly 8000 buildings and left over 1000 people injured.
NASA’s DART test
In recent years, there has been a growing effort to track and study asteroids that could potentially threaten Earth. Last year, NASA carried out its first-ever planetary defense test by smashing a spacecraft into an approaching asteroid with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) to alter its course. NASA studied the asteroids Didymos and Dimorphos to better understand the potential threat of asteroid impacts and to develop techniques for deflecting them. ESA’s Hera spacecraft observed the result of the collision and reported the findings for further study.
Although no asteroid is expected to hit the planet and cause a major catastrophe for at least the next 100 years, these close approaches serve as a reminder of the importance of continuing to study and track asteroids to better understand and prepare for potential threats.