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Don’t Look Up, Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Will Zip by Earth at 47,000 MPH Next Week

It was back in the summer of last year when NASA released the most recent data on near-Earth asteroids, the ones circling our planet at distances that may become too close for comfort. According to that data, there are over 25,700 such pieces of floating rocks that we know of, and one of them will come really, really close by space standards as soon as next week.
7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system 6 photos
7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system7482 (1994 PC1) orbit in the solar system
7482 (1994 PC1) is how the asteroid is called. Discovered back in 1994, it is about 1.1 km (0.68 miles) in diameter, it has a siliceous mineralogical composition (meaning it’s mostly made of rock), and follows a very precise orbit.

That orbit will take it next week, on January 18, at a distance of 1.2 million miles (1.93 million km) from Earth. When it zips by, NASA says it will do so at a speed of over 47,000 mph (over 75,000 kph). The distance and its size make it impossible to see with the naked eye, but some telescopes and a quick hand to track the fast-moving object might help.

According to the people looking at it, the thing has slim chances of impacting our planet, but any asteroid that comes closer than 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) is automatically considered potentially hazardous.

If it were to decide to head for our planet, there’s probably nothing we could do to stop. As per a NASA tabletop exercise conducted last year, not even a six-month warning window wouldn’t be enough for us to prevent an asteroid strike. The conclusions of the exercise point to our race not having the required infrastructure and technology to deflect or destroy a life-threatening asteroid, not even by nuclear means.

The first steps for a more coherent strategy when it comes to asteroids were taken at the end of last year, when the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) took off, heading for a binary asteroid with the purpose of slamming into it at 15,000 mph (24,140 kph) and slightly altering its course.


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