NASA says Apollo group asteroid will fly past Earth today

Through various experiments, scientists have known that while asteroids have the potential to cause catastrophic damage if they impact Earth, these objects can also become a resource hub. Scientists study asteroids to learn more about the early solar system and the conditions that existed when the planets were forming. However, an entirely new experiment could mean that asteroids may also protect Earth from the Sun’s intense rays, mitigating climate change! This move, ideated by astronomer Istvan Szapudi, from the University of Hawai’i Institute for Astronomy, proposes a space-based solar radiation management (SRM) shield or shade that is tethered to an asteroid as a counterweight.

In another development, NASA has now revealed that an asteroid is set to pass Earth very closely today and has issued details about its close approach.

Asteroid 2023 VD3: Details about the close approach

The space agency has issued a warning against an asteroid that will fly past Earth very closely today, November 8. As per the details, the asteroid, given the designation Asteroid 2023 VD3, will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 490,000 kilometers, which is just 100,000 farther than the Moon!

In terms of size, Asteroid 2023 VD3 is between 32 feet and 75 feet wide, making it almost as big as a house! Not only will the asteroid pass Earth closely, but it is also travelling in its orbit at a breakneck speed of 64453 kilometers per hour, which is almost as fast as a space shuttle!

It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.

This asteroid has passed by Earth before, NASA has revealed. It flew past Earth on May 22, 1925, at a distance of 15 million kilometers. However, after today, it is not expected to make another Earth approach in the near future.

AI aids in asteroid discovery

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly developing field that is making its mark in nearly every sector. It even recently helped India successfully put its lander on the lunar South Pole, making it the first country in the world to do so. Astronomers have also turned to algorithms for asteroid hunting. According to a study published by the University of Washington, an algorithm, named HelioLinc3D, helped researchers discover a potentially hazardous asteroid. Asteroid 2022 SF289, which is almost 600 feet wide, was discovered during the algorithm’s test in Hawaii and has not been deemed as dangerous in the foreseeable future.

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