Since it formed 4.5 billion years ago, Earth has been proved lucky enough to survive some major threats by asteroids and comets. The potentially hazardous objects, collectively known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs, time and again, posed serious dangers to our planet, whenever neared the inner solar system. Scientists, however, suggest that such objects cannot cause damage to the humanity if their orbits are reasonably well determined. However, we cannot also ignore the fact that one of them hitting the Earth wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
Anticipating another such threat to the human civilization, scientists at NASA has started monitoring the path of a huge asteroid named 1998 OR2, which might be on a course of collision with Earth in April, 2020. If hits, 1998 OR2 would leave a major trail of destruction to the planet. Apart from the tectonic damage, the impact would also severely change the weather and atmospheric conditions of the planet. However, a collision can be averted with the giant asteroid unless some anomalous factors come into play.
Having an estimated diameter of 13,500 feet, Asteroid 1998 OR2, is, so far, predicted to zoom past the Earth on April 29, 2020, at 5:56 am EDT (3:26pm IST), according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). During its closest approach, the celestial body will be about 0.04205 astronomical units or around 3.9 million miles away from Earth's Centre. Is it a sign of worry for us? Well, that depends on a couple of phenomena that are scheduled to take place till April, next year.
Factors which may alter its path and lead to a crash include Yarkovsky effect and the trajectory disturbance caused by gravitational keyhole. While Yarkovsky effect may change 1998 OR2's temperature, affecting its spin, the trajectory disturbance can swing the orbit of the spatial body. In both the cases, the altered conditions may cause the asteroid to turn towards Earth.
In case you are wondering how dangerous this asteroid could be, scientists say Asteroid 1998 OR2 is consedered to be one of the brightest and largest potentially hazardous space rocks known to exist.
However, we hope we survive this deadly asteroid threat one more time as Earth doesn't have a laser gun or a Death Star yet that can obliterate the 1988 OR2 in case it comes close to the planet.
Is it the day? Is this the beginning of the end? Is the world going to end anytime soon? What do you think about these increased asteroid threats in the last few months? Drop your remarks in the comment section below.