Earth recently had a close encounter with asteroid 2019 OK. Fortunately, the giant space rock zip past the planet. Every time Earth cannot be so lucky. An asteroid named as 2019 OU1 is all set to shoot past our planet at a staggering speed of 29,000mph. Yes, you read it right. Don’t worry, the potentially hazardous asteroid 2019 OU1 will not hit the Earth and we are fully safe. However, NASA is keeping a close eye on the space rock.
Asteroid 2019 OU1, which is 100 metres long, will travel by at a distance of only 0.00687 astronomical units (AU). One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, so coming within just 0.00687 AU is perilously close. According to NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), asteroid 2019 OU1 will approach Earth on August 28 at 11.36am (IST) and will be just 640,000 miles or 0.00688 AU from the planet’s centre.
Notably, CNEOS classified 2019 OU1 as an Apollo asteroid and like others from this group, fly around the Sun and Earth, occasionally intersecting with the orbit of the planet. The US space agency believes that the chance of asteroid 2019 OU1 hitting Earth is nil.
NASA has classified the space rock as a potentially hazardous asteroid. According to the US space agency, 2019 OU1 has the “potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.”
Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. The space rocks (asteroids) approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. 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.