A newly discovered, “potentially dangerous” asteroid nearly the size of the world’s tallest skyscraper will whiz past Earth just in time for Halloween, according to NASA.
The the asteroid, called the 2022 RM4, has an estimated diameter of 1,083 to 2,428 feet (330 and 740 m) – just under the height of Dubai’s 2,716-foot-tall (828 m) Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. It will fly past our planet at about 52,500 mph (84,500 km/h), or about 68 times the speed of sound. According to NASA (opens in new tab).
At its closest on November 1, the asteroid will come within about 1.43 million miles (2.3 million kilometers). the worldAbout six times the average distance between Earth and Earth the moon. By cosmic standards, that’s a very slim margin.
Related: Why are the shapes of asteroids and comets strange? (opens in new tab)
NASA flags any space object that comes within 120 million miles (193 million km) of Earth as a “near-Earth object” and classifies any large body within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million km) of our planet as “potentially hazardous”. Once flagged, these potential threats are closely monitored by astronomers, who study them with radar for signs of any deviations from their predicted trajectories that could put them on a catastrophic collision course with Earth.
No danger, but the newly discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass less than 6 lunar distances on November 1. Perhaps as wide as 740 meters, it would be as bright as 14.3 mag, well within the reach of telescopes in the backyard. @unistellar That’s pretty close for an asteroid of this size. #2022RM4 pic.twitter.com/Z8khblg3GqOctober 5, 2022
NASA tracks the positions and orbits of roughly 28,000 asteroids, identifying them by Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact End Warning System (Atlas) – An array of four telescopes capable of scanning the entire night sky every 24 hours.
Since ATLAS was brought online in 2017, it has observed more than 700 near-Earth asteroids and 66 comets. Two asteroids detected by ATLAS, 2019 MO and 2018 LA, have actually hit Earth, the former exploding off the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the latter crash-landing near the border of Botswana and South Africa. Fortunately, those asteroids were small and did no damage.
NASA has estimated the trajectories of all near-Earth objects by the end of the century. The good news is that Earth will not face any known danger from a cosmic asteroid collision for at least the next 100 years, According to NASA (opens in new tab).
But that doesn’t mean astronomers think they should stop watching. While most near-Earth objects like the planet-busting comet in the 2021 satirical disaster movie “Don’t Look Up” may not be the end of civilization, there are plenty of devastating asteroid impacts in recent history that could justify continuing. Surveillance
For example, in March 2021, a meteor the size of a bowling ball Exploded in Vermont (opens in new tab) with 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of TNT energy. In 2013, a meteorite that exploded in the atmosphere over the central Russian city of Chelyabinsk produced an explosion equivalent to about 400 to 500 kilotons of TNT, or 26 to 33 times the energy. Hiroshima bomb (opens in new tab). During the 2013 eruption, fireballs rained down on the city and its surroundings, damaging buildings, breaking windows and injuring around 1,500 people.
If astronomers ever spied a dangerous asteroid headed our way, space agencies around the world are already working on possible ways to deflect it. On September 26, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft Redirected to non-hazardous asteroid Dimorphos by It’s definitely ramming off (opens in new tab)The first test of Earth’s planetary defense system changed the asteroid’s orbit in 32 minutes.
The Chinese have also suggested (opens in new tab) It is in the early planning stages of an asteroid-redirection mission. 23 Long March 5 rockets hit Asteroid BennuSet to swing within 4.6 million miles (7.4 million km) of Earth’s orbit between 2175 and 2199, the country hopes to divert space rocks from a potentially catastrophic impact with our planet.
Originally published in Live Science.