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Tech & Science NASA: Massive asteroid close call due Saturday, but won’t be hitting Earth

15:15  14 february  2020
15:15  14 february  2020 Source:   bostonherald.com

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An asteroid large enough to cause planet -wide devastation will hurtle unsettlingly close to Earth early Saturday morning -- but the near-miss at a distance of The kilometer-wide asteroid NASA officially calls 2002 PZ39 will get closest to earth at 6:05 a . m . Saturday , when it will be 3.6 million miles away.

The asteroid is due to zoom past the planet on Saturday , Feb. 15, according to NASA data. The asteroid didn’t hit Earth , but it sparked public fear because astronomers didn’t see it coming. Tracking records show that Saturday ’s fly-by won ’ t be the closest call Earth has had with PZ39.

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An asteroid large enough to cause planet-wide devastation will hurtle unsettlingly close to Earth early Saturday morning — but a near-miss means we’re safe for now, astronomers say.

The kilometer-wide asteroid NASA officially calls 2002 PZ39 will get closest to earth at 6:05 a.m. Saturday, when it will be 3.6 million miles away.

This asteroid is cruising at around 34,000 mph, and will at its closest be about 15 times the distance of the moon.

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If it hit Earth , it would probably cause local damage and a limited number of deaths, but certainly wouldn’ t It is due to travel so close to Earth that billions of people will be able to see it with the naked eye. The asteroid was discussed at Nasa ’s annual Planetary Defence Conference earlier this year

If an asteroid the size of 2004 MN4 hit the Earth , it would do considerable localized or regional damage. A statement was released by NASA asteroid experts Don Yeomans, Steve Chesley and Paul The asteroid approaches the Sun almost as close as the orbit of Venus. It crosses near the

This mosaic image composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, and provided by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA’s first look at a tiny asteroid shows the space rock is more moist and studded with boulders than originally thought. Scientists on Monday, Dec. 10, released the first morsels of data collected since their spacecraft Osiris-Rex hooked up last week with the asteroid Bennu, which is only about three blocks wide and weighs about 80 million tons (73 million metric tons). Bennu regularly crosses Earth’s orbit and will come perilously close to Earth in about 150 years. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP) © Provided by Boston Herald This mosaic image composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2, 2018, and provided by NASA shows the asteroid Bennu. NASA’s first look at a tiny asteroid shows the space rock is more moist and studded with boulders than originally thought. Scientists on Monday, Dec. 10, released the first morsels of data collected since their spacecraft Osiris-Rex hooked up last week with the asteroid Bennu, which is only about three blocks wide and weighs about 80 million tons (73 million metric tons). Bennu regularly crosses Earth’s orbit and will come perilously close to Earth in about 150 years. (NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona via AP)

“There’s no hazard or danger,” Paul Chodas, director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Objects Studies, insisted to the Herald on Thursday. “We’ve been watching this asteroid for years, and we know its orbit very well.”

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NASA Near- Earth Object Observations Program is constantly monitoring the skies for approaching asteroids and meteors. However, NASA has issued no warnings about a catastrophic impact, and CNEOS reports that this asteroid will get no closer than 3 million miles from Earth during its approach.

The asteroid , dubbed 2018 GE3, passed by Earth at 2:41 EDT Sunday morning and was estimated to be between 157 to 361 feet in diameter. The most disturbing thing about 2018 GE3 is that it wasn' t spotted until it was very close to Earth , giving scientist little time to prepare or assess what the

But the asteroid will be back, as its orbit essentially intersects with Earth’s orbit. It will come within just 251,000 miles of where we were Tuesday night.

“This is certainly an object that we need to keep an eye on,” astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told the Herald. “Maybe it wouldn’t be enough to send us extinct, but it  would make for a very different world.”

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Of asteroids this size, McDowell said, “This is an existential threat in the long term for our species.”

If this asteroid’s path were just slightly different and were to impact Earth, McDowell said, “It plows into the Earth, it makes a huge crater, it throws enormous amounts of earth material into the atmosphere. It could set fire to a large fraction of a continent. Then you’d have a lot of dust in the atmosphere for years and years afterward. It would wipe out all life for a thousand miles around, and then knock-on consequences for the environment for decades.”

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Congress gave NASA the task of tracking all large objects that come within any reasonable range of Earth . Two spacecraft would be called upon to nudge an asteroid called Didymos, changing the speed of its orbit as a test of the way a threatening asteroid might be dealt with in the future.

After dubbing the asteroid "potentially hazardous," NASA had to step in to remind us we’ve got We may earn a commission from these links. A 'Potentially Hazardous' Asteroid Is Whizzing Past Earth That may sound close , but it’s approximately a 3-million-mile distance from the planet we call home.

Astronomers, NASA and other foreign space agencies have their eyes on the skies to monitor what McDowell said is likely hundreds of sizable space rocks whose paths come close to earth. The most notorious asteroid hit on Earth was the Chicxulub impactor in the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, which is blamed for the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

Humans wouldn’t be able to do anything if an object is only spotted within days of impact. The key, McDowell said, is to figure out years in advance, so astronauts could fly up and do something about it. But they wouldn’t blow it up, a la Bruce Willis in “Armageddon” — they’d likely just attach rocket boosters to it to speed it up or slow it down just slightly, so it gets to the intersection point with Earth’s orbit just a couple hours sooner or later than we’ll be there.

“If you can just slow it down by an hour, you just avoid that hit,” McDowell said.

Chodas said, “There is no known asteroid that has any chance of hitting the Earth over the next hundred years.”

The next truly close call is on April 13, 2029 — Friday the 13th — when the asteroid Apophas will come even closer to Earth than the satellites we use for GPS. That 300-meter-long rock will fly so close we’ll be able to see it, Chodas said — though he’s said NASA is now sure it’s not going to hit us then.

MIT Team Claims to Have Found The Best Way to Deflect Scary Earth-Bound Asteroids .
One can only hope that never (again) will a substantially-sized asteroid come barrelling towards Earth. But if it should happen, we're now better prepared for it: MIT scientists have come up with a decision map for figuring out the best response in the event of an incoming asteroid crisis. The decision map weighs up factors like an asteroid's mass and momentum, and then predicts the most effective way of avoiding a collision if it looks like the object will hit Earth's gravitational keyhole – that window of space where a hit would be guaranteed.

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