Potentially dangerous asteroid heading towards Earth captured in image

A giant asteroid, estimated to be 1.3 km in diameter, is heading our way and will pass close by next month. The potentially dangerous asteroid, called 138971 (2001 CB21), will approach within 4.5 million km. But scientists say there is no need to worry as the asteroid will be around 13 times the average lunar distance at its closest point. However, the celestial object will be moving at an amazing speed of over 26,800 miles per hour. The close encounter will take place on March 4 at around 3:00 a.m. ET (1:30 p.m. IST).

An astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy captured an image of the asteroid hurtling towards us on January 30. Gianluca Masi, the astronomer, found the object using a ground-based telescope when it was about 35 million kilometers away.

In the image shared on the Virtual Telescope Project website, the asteroid can be seen as a small white dot highlighted by an arrow in the center. It was captured in a single 420-second exposure, taken remotely with the “Elena”, a robotic telescope.

A Newsweek report says the asteroid orbits the Sun in 384 days, slightly longer than Earth takes to orbit the Sun. The asteroid’s classification as “potentially dangerous” does not mean it could hit us. This means that he is able to get very close to us. The classification also takes into account the size of the asteroid. Last month, another asteroid approached relatively close to Earth. Called 7482 (1994 PC1), it was over a kilometer wide and flew past Earth on January 18.

Although no threat of an asteroid collision has been detected so far, NASA is working on building capacity to deal with such a situation should it occur in the future. He launched the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to give it a boost to change its trajectory. The crash is not expected before September-October 2022.


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