NASA reported that a giant asteroid will be visible to sky observers from the European and North American continents on Monday, and this this will be the greatest space rock to pass our planet until 2027. Most space rocks that fly-by Earth are rather small, somewhere around 50 and 100 meters wide.
This upcoming visitor, called asteroid 2004 Bl86, is half a kilometer (0.3 miles) wide, and would be extremely dangerous should it hit our planet. However, this is not the case with Monday’s fly-by. The nearest it will get is 1.2 million km (745,000 miles), the equivalent of three times the distance from our planet to the Moon.
Don Yeomans, chief of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the asteroid will be the closest to our planet in 200 years. The official emphasized that the asteroid represents no danger to Earth for a long time to come. He added that the cosmic event is a unique chance to observe it and find out more about the space rock.
Europeans and North Americans will have the chance to spot the asteroid in its brightest phase at 8pm EST (1am Tuesday UTC).
Yeomans, who is retiring from the JPL after 16 years of employment, noted that he might also take his binoculars and try to spot the asteroid. According to the expert, asteroids not only gave Earth some of the life compounds and water but also they might become significant assets for mineral metals and other crucial natural resources in the future. Yeomans added that the space rocks will likewise turn into the fuelling stops for humankind as we keep on exploring our planetary group.
The cosmic event will likewise provide NASA the very first gander at the space rock itself. Other than its size, scientists don’t know much about 2004 Bl86, so the first images ought to give researchers some info about it composition and beginnings. This truly is a last-call type of event. After Monday, 2004 Bl86 won’t return to Earth’s region for the following 200 years, by which time today’s stargazers will be history.
Cosmologists have this splendid chance to collect information at high resolution similar to what is typically provided by a space apparatus flyby, said Lance Benner, from Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and main Goldstone observation examiner for the space rock flyby. Also, microwave radar pictures are superior to what are delivered by most ground-based telescopes, as indicated by Benner.
Benner and his team are eager to get enough pictures to reproduce the space rock’s three-dimensional shape, which would support them in their quest to find out how it turns. The space rock will be nearly observed by the Goldstone antenna for about 6 hours on most evenings from January 27 to February 1.
Image Source: Daily Mail