NASA is constantly looking for asteroids that could pose a threat to life on Earth.
These so-called “near Earth objects” (NEO) must pass within a certain threshold to be considered “potentially dangerous”.
And experts from the American space agency say there is such a rock on the radar for this week. The 2012 asteroid XA133 is set to pass Earth on Thursday March 26th at a speed of 53,000 mph.
The asteroid is approximately 1,280 feet (390 m) wide, which is enough to cause a major impact on Earth if it collides with the planet. Fortunately, NASA engineers calculate the asteroid trajectory that will pass us safely.
It is believed to pass 0.04453 astronomical units (AU) or approximately 4.1 million miles from the center of the Earth. A single UA describes the distance from Earth to the sun – around 93 million miles.
“While orbits around the Sun, NEOs may occasionally approach Earth,” explained NASA.
“Note that an astronomically” close “passage can be very far in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometers.”
Next to NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) also follows the asteroid. It is actually one of about six that are being monitored as they cross Earth this week – but it is the only one that falls into the “potentially dangerous” category.
“Potentially dangerous asteroids (PHA) are currently defined on the basis of parameters that measure the potential of the asteroid to approach Earth threateningly,” NASA said in a statement.
“On a daily basis, about one hundred tons of interplanetary material are sliding towards the Earth’s surface,” said NASA’s Center for Earth Studies (CNEOS).
“Most of the smaller interplanetary particles that reach the Earth’s surface are the tiny dust particles that are released by comets as their ice vaporizes in the solar district.
“The vast majority of the largest interplanetary material reaching the Earth’s surface originates from collision fragments of asteroids that met a few eons ago.”
The agency provides some details on how it would happen if one of these rocks ended up shattering us: “With an average interval of about 10,000 years, it would be expected that rocky or iron asteroids larger than about 100 meters would reach the earth’s surface and cause catastrophes local or produce the tides that can flood low coastal areas. “
‘On average every hundreds of thousands of years, asteroids larger than a kilometer could cause global disasters. In this case, impact debris would spread to the Earth’s atmosphere in such a way that plant life would suffer from acid rain, partial blockage of sunlight and fire storms resulting from heated impact debris that rain again on the Earth’s surface. .
‘Since their orbital paths often cross that of Earth, collisions have occurred in the past with objects close to Earth and we should remain vigilant about the possibility of future approaches close to Earth. It seems prudent to increase efforts to discover and study these objects, to characterize their dimensions, compositions and structures and to keep an eye on their future trajectories. “