Published: Fri, February 14, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Asteroids: NASA spots potentially hazardous rock approaching Earth

Asteroids: NASA spots potentially hazardous rock approaching Earth

The smaller asteroid is just 230 feet in diameter and orbits its parent like a tiny moon about once every 49 hours, astronomers say.

To put it into perspective, the asteroid that might have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago from the face of Earth was 10 km in diameter. Given how fast it is going, PZ39 will be approaching Earth on Saturday, the 15th of February. Named 2002 PZ39, the rock is classified as a Near-Earth Object or NEO, but due to its estimated size ranging up to 3,280 feet in diameter, NASA has classified this as a Potentially Hazardous Object or PHO.

"In this case, the impact debris would spread throughout the Earth's atmosphere so that plant life would suffer from acid rain, partial blocking of sunlight, and from the firestorms resulting from heated impact debris raining back down upon the Earth's surface". According to the report, NASA said it is bigger than even the largest man-made structures.

"It is an Apollo asteroid which is known to intersect Earth's path around the Sun from time to time".

For decades, films have dealt with the subject of potentially risky asteroid collisions.

In a statement, NASA said: "Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are now defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid's potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth".

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It may not happen in our lifetime, he said, but 'the risk that Earth will get hit in a devastating event one day is very high'.

Currently, there is no known asteroid that is headed directly for Earth and that includes Asteroid PZ39.

A binary asteroid is a two-asteroid system that has one common center.

At its closest, the space rock will approach Earth from about 0.03860 astronomical units.

It's not likely to hit us anytime soon though, it flew almost three million miles from the Earth on February 3 - that's 11 times further from us than the Moon is.

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