On April 15, as we enjoyed a nap in India, an asteroid as big as a football field flew silently past the earth. The asteroid, known as the 2018 GE3, flew past at 1.06,000 kilometers per hour to reach 1.92.316 km. This is only half the distance between the earth and the moon.
This event is worrying as asteroids have the potential to wreak havoc on Earth. This week we will learn more about asteroids and how they are being persecuted.
WHAT is an asteroid?
Asteroids are space rocks orbiting the sun. They are too small to be called planets and therefore they are also called Minor Planets.
About 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system began when a large cloud of gas and dust collapsed. As this happened, most of the material fell into the center of the cloud, forming the sun. Asteroids are rocky remnants of the formation of the solar system. They were formed from small stones and metal
Asteroids come in different shapes and sizes. They can be irregular or nearly spherical. They are often filled with boxes. The size could be 530 km in diameter and as small as pebbles. According to NASA, the mass of all asteroids is smaller than that of the earth's moon. It is known that more than 1
WHERE do you find?
Most asteroids are located between Mars and Jupiter, the principal asteroid belt, in the orbit of the Sun. Some asteroids, called Trojans, share an orbit with a larger planet or moon, but do not collide with it. There are Jupiter, Mars and Neptune Trojans. In 2011, NASA also discovered an Earth Trojan. The near-Earth asteroids are those whose orbits are near our planet. 14,464 near-Earth asteroids have been known since June 2016
WHAT is the difference between an asteroid and a meteor?
Both asteroids and meteors are space rock. Sometimes one asteroid collides with another and breaks up into small pieces. These pieces are called meteoroids. When a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it evaporates and turns into a meteor. You can see a meteor as a strip of light in the sky. People call such meteors shooting stars. But remember that they are not stars.
And when a meteoroid reaches the atmosphere and falls to the surface without evaporation, it is called a meteorite.
How dangerous are asteroids for the earth?
Like asteroids orbiting the sun in elliptical orbits, they sometimes rotate quite irregularly.
Asteroids routinely strike the earth. Space rocks smaller than about 82 feet will most likely burn if they reach the Earth's atmosphere and do no damage.
A space rock 2 miles (6561 feet) in diameter could cause widespread destruction across the planet's climate and lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of humans and species. But such an event could, according to data on NASA's website, happen only once every 1000 centuries.
WHAT are the efforts made to track and study asteroids?
Several missions have flown and observed asteroids.
In 2001, the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft landed on Eros, an asteroid near Earth. In 2011, the spacecraft Dawn entered Vestas orbit. A 14-month investigation of this large asteroid was successfully completed.
In 2016, NASA launched the OSIRIS REx spacecraft to study a near-Earth asteroid, Bennu. On September 24, 2023, the spacecraft is expected to return a sample of the asteroid to Earth for a detailed analysis.
In 2005, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa landed on the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa and successfully returned to Earth in 2010 with a small amount of asteroid dust now being studied by scientists. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the Hayabusa 2 probe in December 2014 and plans to return samples from Ryugu in December 2020.
The asteroid Apophis will pass Earth in 2029. He will come to earth up to 19,400 miles. The chances that it actually hits the earth are low. In March, researchers announced plans for a spacecraft called HAMMER that would collide, knocking incoming asteroids in a different direction, or simply smash them into tiny pieces.
WHY is it difficult to track asteroids?
Asteroids are small and dark and therefore very difficult to track. They may not reflect enough light so that telescopes can be easily detected. A near-Earth asteroid also moves quickly in the sky and a telescope must look exactly in the right area at the right time to catch it.