Among the wonderful tribute, space rocks heading our way:
— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) May 31, 2021
Beyond earth on Memorial Day, NASA also reported big space rocks have/are-going to hurdle pass our planet — three were scheduled for today — one the size of a bus (90,000 miles from earth), another about car size (about 110,00 miles close to earth), and the last one, a house-size piece of rock (set to pass 3.7 million miles from us).
Meanwhile, a massive chunk due tomorrow — via USAToday this afternoon:
The asteroid, known as 2021 KT1, is about 600 feet, the size of the New York Olympic Tower or the Seattle Space Needle.
NASA classified the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object” because it is larger than 492 feet and within 4.6 million miles of Earth.
It will fly near Earth at 40,000 mph, according to the laboratory, which tracks objects that drift close to Earth’s orbital area.
Though the asteroid is not expected to make a direct hit, NASA is keeping a close watch.
This asteroid is not the only one to come close to the Earth. An asteroid known as 2021 GW4 was 12,000 miles away from the Earth’s surface, traveling 18,700 mph in April.
Astronomer Gianluca Masi, founder of the Virtual Telescope project, said it was “an exceptionally close encounter.”
Four smaller asteroids as big as an airplane or house are expected to pass the Earth from Monday to Wednesday; none of them is potentially hazardous.
NASA defines an asteroid as “rocky fragments left over from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.” This space matter is supposed to orbit the sun but occasionally strays from its orbital path because of the gravitational tug of planets.
Scientists say the evolution of the planet could have stemmed from collisions of near-Earth objects, including comets and asteroids. One such theory holds for the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
The objects hitting the Earth can potentially hold water ice or carbon-based molecules, which are needed for animals and plants to thrive and cause geologic change.
Though Earth hasn’t experienced a massive hit from an asteroid in decades, small asteroids pass between Earth and the moon’s orbit several times every month, according to the Planetary Defense at NASA.
Meteoroids, which are fragments of asteroids less than 3 feet, can hit Earth’s atmosphere and explode, creating bright meteor showers that people can watch from the balcony of their house.
NASA is studying ways to deflect hits from asteroids in case one does pose a huge threat. One of these techniques, called the gravity tractor, would involve a spacecraft using mutual gravity attraction from a satellite to change the path of the asteroid.
This method is still in the works.
And why is this method still in the works?
Mainly because a dress rehearsal failed earlier this month:
A group of scientists and experts, at NASA’s behest, spent a week attempting to stop a fictitious asteroid from crashing into Earth and failed.
The scientists were invited to a week-long tabletop exercise led by NASA in which they were instructed to use all of Earth’s technological advancements, which were hypothetically at their disposal, in order to stop the space rock from hitting the planet.
The fictitious asteroid, named 2021PDC, had a 5-percent chance of hitting Earth on Oct. 20, six months from its discovery date, according to the hypothetical mission.
The exercise started on April 26, and each day represented several weeks in the alternate roleplay scenario.
In the exercise, when the asteroid was first discovered, it was estimated to be roughly 35 million miles away. Scientists then spent the next few “fictional weeks” mapping the asteroid’s path and impact probability.
Over time, they concluded that the asteroid had a 100-percent certainty of hitting Earth.
The scientists eventually found they simply did not have enough time to stop the asteroid, and in the end, it struck Eastern Europe.
Bruce Willis anyone:
(Illustration out front: ‘Meteor,’ found here).