NASA reveal what you need to know about asteroids
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An asteroid designated the title 2015 KJ19 is due to come close to Earth. The asteroid measures 118 metres in length, making it about the same size as a standard football pitch. According to analysis from NASA, the asteroid will fly by our planet at 23 kilometres per second.
This translates to more than 82,000 kilometres per hour.
At that speed, the asteroid would be able to travel around Earth twice in an hour.
For reference, it takes the Moon about 28 days to complete a full orbit of our planet.
At 118 metres, 2015 KJ19 would be big enough to flatten a small city.
Thankfully for us, the asteroid will miss by some distance.
Analysis from NASA shows the space rock will pass by at slightly more than 15 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 15.1 lunar distances (LDs).
One LD is 384,000 kilometres, so the asteroid will come nowhere near to our planet.
Nonetheless, it is still close enough for NASA to consider the asteroid to be a near Earth Object (NEO).
NEOs provide the likes of NASA the opportunity to look at the history of the solar system.
NASA said on its JPL website: “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.
“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today.
“Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.”
The European Space Agency (ESA) warned that NEOs can pose a threat to Earth.
It said: “Of the more than 600,000 known asteroids in our Solar System, more than 20,000 are NEOs.
“NEOs could potentially hit our planet and, depending on their size, produce considerable damage.
“While the chance of a large object hitting Earth is very small, it would produce a great deal of destruction.
“NEOs thus merit active detection and tracking efforts.”
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