Asteroid 2022: How big was the Nasa tracked asteroid that passed Earth and could it hit our planet in the future?

Asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) – larger than any building on earth – almost missed us in January 2022

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What you might not realize is that this narrow escape was followed by a journey even closer to Earth – this time a space rock the size of 10 Big Bens in London.

(Graphic: Kim Mogg)

So how close has asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) come to Earth, will it threaten humanity again – and how is Nasa trying to save us from asteroid death?

Here’s what you need to know.

Will a large asteroid hit the earth in 2022?

Asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) arrived in an astronomical belt of the earth on January 18.

But a lack of space wouldn’t be considered close by most people’s standards.

The space rock passes us at a distance of more than 1.2 million miles – or nearly five times the distance between the earth and the moon.

There are thousands of potentially deadly asteroids that Nasa estimates have yet to detect (photo: Shutterstock)

This is half the distance that 4660 Nereus crossed the earth in December.

While that may be close enough for your liking, asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) has come much closer to earth in the past.

In 1933, the asteroid hit a distance of just 700,000 miles.

4660 Nereus will come in similar distance to us on Valentine’s Day 2060.

How big is the asteroid?

With a diameter of more than a kilometer (1,052m) and traveling at nearly 44,000 miles per hour, the space rock has the potential to destroy all life on earth.

4660 Nereus is expected to arrive 2.4 million miles from Earth on December 11 (Image: Shutterstock)

It is also defined this way because its orbit has and will make it less than half the distance from the earth to the sun – about 93 million miles.

This means that any slight deviation in its orbit could cause it to collide with us.

As things stand, asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) is not expected to come close to Earth until at least January 18, 2105.

Other space rocks are expected to come even closer this time, but other asteroids or comets could also emerge from nowhere.

Although Nasa says there is no “significant chance” that any of the more than 10,000 asteroids over 140m in size it has passed will hit the earth in the next 100 years, these estimates represent just that. half of the potentially lethal objects out there.

In fact, there could be more than 25,000 near-Earth objects in space, meaning we’re tracking less than half of the killer asteroids out there.

What is Nasa doing to prevent asteroids or comets from hitting the earth?

The work to save humanity from asteroid death is still very much in its infancy.

And it just made its first exploratory mission to see how easy it is to knock out an asteroid in November 2021.

An artist’s impression of the Dart spacecraft (Image: NASA/PA)

The space agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Darts) test mission will see a spacecraft crash into a harmless asteroid tracked by Nasa in an attempt to change the path of the space rock.

If it succeeds, humanity may have discovered a way to keep itself safe from a deadly impact in the future.

But it’s currently the only real-world experiment taking place in the field, so if nothing happens, we’ll still be as vulnerable as we are.

What is an asteroid?

An asteroid is a piece of rock left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.

Most of them orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt.

Scientists estimate there are millions of space rocks in this part of space – some hundreds of kilometers across.

Sometimes, these asteroids change their orbits if they are affected by a planet’s gravity.

They can also collide with each other – incidents that can throw smaller, but still dangerous, pieces of rock.

One such stray rock – only 20m in diameter – fell to earth in 2013 with 33 times more destructive power than the atomic bomb dropped by the US on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II.

This explosion occurred in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk and blew out the windows of more than 3,600 apartment buildings and injured 1,200 people.

A much larger, 6-mile-wide stray asteroid is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

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Huynh Nguyen

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