Earth had yet another close encounter with a giant asteroid on Thursday morning. However, we were fortunate that the 181-feet long asteroid named as ‘2019 ON’ did not collide with the Earth and zip past our planet. Yes, you read it right. Asteroid 2019 ON zoom past the Earth at 6:53 am (IST) or 11:23 am (ST) at a speed of 10,400 miles per hour. Notably, this asteroid would have definitely harmed the mankind, if it would have collided with our planet. Asteroids (space rocks) are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. You must be aware that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to our planet and also to human life. The effects of an asteroid strike—tsunamis, shock waves, and flattening winds, could be catastrophic. Asteroids can approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Therefore, our fortune can be turned into misfortune anytime. However, as of now, we are safe.
Coming back to asteroid 2019 ON, the massive space rock was spotted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to the US space agency’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the closest asteroid 2019 ON to Earth was just under 0.01729 astronomical units or about 1.6 million miles from the Earth’s centre. Well, you can say it was a safe distance, but still much less than the distance between the Earth and Moon.
It is worth mentioning here that asteroid 2019 ON was first observed on July 6. The last time it approached Earth was on July 28, 2018. During this time, the asteroid approached the planet from a distance of 0.04720 astronomical units or roughly 4.4 million miles.
And now, asteroid 2019 ON is expected to return to Earth’s vicinity on July 30, 2020, reported ibtimes.com. The online news portal further quoted CNEOS that it will be about 0.09142 astronomical units or 8.5 million miles away from the planet on its future flyby.
Due to 2019 ON’s frequent visits to Earth’s vicinity, the space rock has been classified by CNEOS as a Near-Earth Object (NEO). According to the US space agency, these types of space rocks have been affected by the gravitational pull of nearby large objects.
Importantly, six other asteroids named as 2006 QQ23, 454094 2013 BZ45, 2018 PN22, 2016 PD, 2002 JR100 and 2019 OU1 will fly past the Earth in August this year.
According to a report published by spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
In related news, on December 18 last year, a large meteoroid was exploded over the Bering Sea, however, it went unnoticed due to the remote location. According to the NASA, the explosion of meteoroid unleashed around 173 kilotons of energy, more than 10 times that of the atomic bomb blast over Hiroshima in World War II. Also, it was the most powerful explosion in the atmosphere since the fireball that burst over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk in 2013. That was 440 kilotons and left 1,500 people injured, mostly from glass flying out of smashed windows.