Watch out for this 140-feet asteroid headed Earth's way
Over the years, the NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide Infrared Survey Explorer) project has hunted down several asteroids. It has now spotted a 140-feet space rock headed Earth's way. Dubbed "2022 QF2," this asteroid belonging to the Apollo group will make its closest approach to Earth at 11:17 am IST on Sunday (September 11). If it strikes Earth, the impact can easily destroy a city.
Why does this story matter?
- Last month, Earth was kept busy by asteroids flying past every now and then.
- Our planet may have been hoping for a less busy September to catch its breath.
- However, that hasn't been the case so far. Within the first 10 days of the month, nearly a dozen asteroids flew past us.
- And guess what? There are many more to come.
The asteroid was first spotted this year
The asteroid 2022 QF2 is approximately 140 feet (43 meters) in diameter. It was not discovered until August this year. Its perihelion is close to Venus's orbit, while the aphelion is near Mars's orbit. The space rock will come as close as 7.3 million kilometers to Earth. It will hurtle past us at a relative velocity of 8.44km/s (30,384km/h).
2022 QF2 doesn't fall under Potentially Hazardous Asteroids
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory defines Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) as all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less. The asteroid 2022 QF2's MOID is 0.06 au, and its absolute magnitude is 24.55. Therefore technically, this asteroid does not pose any threat to Earth.
What is NEOWISE?
The NEOWISE was originally just called WISE when it was launched in December 2009. The mission went into hibernation in 2011, and when it came back on in 2013, it was repurposed as NEOWISE. After the repurposing, the mission's main objective became to identify asteroids and comets that pass close to Earth's orbit. This infrared space telescope will continue operations until June 2023.