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NASA says skyscraper-sized asteroid headed toward Earth is ‘potentially hazardous’
A monster space rock classified by NASA as "potentially hazardous" is headed toward Earth.
Asteroid 2002 AJ129 – which at 0.7 miles is wider than the tallest building in the U.S. (New York's One World Trade Center) stacked on top of itself – is predicted to miss our planet, according to Metro. However, it will pass relatively close in terms of outer space.
NASA classifies any space object surpassing 459 feet wide and passing within 4,660,000 miles of Earth as "hazardous," according to a 2013 report on the space agency's website. There are about 1,000 such known space objects monitored by NASA.
This asteroid is more than eight times wider than the minimum (3,696 feet) and will pass within just over half the minimum distance (2,615,128 miles) to our planet.
For a reference point, the moon orbits Earth at a distance of about 238,855 miles.
The giant asteroid is expected to "narrowly" miss our planet on Feb. 4, whizzing past us at a whopping 67,000 miles per hour. It will be the biggest and fastest space object to fly near Earth this year, according to The Daily Star.
That said, NASA likes to label any asteroid that comes within 4.6 million miles of Earth as “potentially hazardous,” so Asteroid 2002 AJ129 isn’t getting any kind of special treatment.
The space object is 0.7 miles wide, some 0.2 miles bigger than the massive Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. It’s speeding through space at 67,000 mph, The Daily Mail explains, while the speedy hypersonic North American X-15 aircraft can fly at speeds of only 4,520 mph.
2002 AJ129 will pass Earth on February 4th at a distance of more than 2.6 million miles. The distance between the Earth and the Moon, meanwhile, is 238,855 miles. In other words, the Asteroid will most likely not crash into our planet. We already have a Burj Khalifa, so we’re all set thanks.
But say it did… what might happen? You can expect Earth to go through a mini ice age following the impact with an object of that size, according to researchers. Average temperatures around the world would fall by 8° C, and Earth would become a much darker, colder, and drier place.
Surviving the impact would not be pleasant. In a “worst-case scenario,” soot would remain in the atmosphere for around 10 years, with dust needing some six years to settle back down on Earth.
NASA, meanwhile, is going forward with plans to prevent any Asteroid impacts, and they don’t involve plans like the aforementioned ones in the movie Armageddon. NASA is working on a refrigerator-sized spacecraft that would prevent asteroids from colliding with Earth. Deflecting an asteroid that’s on an impact course with Earth requires changing its speed by less than an inch per second, but you have to do it years in advance. Apparently having a team of expert oil drillers nuke it out of a sky at the last moment isn’t the way to go.
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