Earth had a close encounter with an asteroid (space rock) identified as 481394 (2006 SF6), on Thursday early morning. Measuring somewhere around 2,034 feet, asteroid 2006 SF6 came dangerously close to Earth at around 5.30 AM (IST). Fortunately, asteroid 2006 SF6 failed to collide with our planet or else massive casualties would have occurred.
During its closest approach, the massive space rock came within 0.02886 astronomical units (around 2.7 million miles) of the Earth. During the flyby, asteroid 2006 SF6 reached a speed of more than 18,000 miles per hour. Classified as an Aten asteroid, 2006 SF6 has an oval-shaped orbit that occasionally intersects with that of Earth as it completes its cycle around the Sun. This usually occurs as the asteroid approaches its farthest point from the giant star.
Due to the space rock’s Earth-crossing orbit and massive size, CNEOS labeled 2006 SF6 as a potentially hazardous asteroid. Asteroid 2006 SF6 was first discovered on September 17, 2006 by the Catalina Sky Survey—an astronomical project designed to look for asteroids and comets, which is conducted by scientists at the Steward Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.
The space rock's last close approach to Earth took place in February this year. And the next one will take place in November 2020 as 2006 SF6 orbits around the sun. However, according to NASA projections, there won't be another approach as close as the one on November 20 over the course of the next two centuries.
It is to be noted that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. It is said that one day all life on the Earth will be extinct. Not only life, but the Earth will also extinct someday and an asteroid could be the possible reason. Shocked to hear that? However, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. On the other hand, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once every few million.
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