Six asteroids to zoom past Earth today, fastest one to fly at a speed of 44,388 kmph
Dec 06, 2021
Weeks after Nasa launched the first mission to hit an asteroid, six Near Earth Objects (NEO) will fly past Earth on Monday as Nasa observes their movement and tracks their orbit. Asteroids 2021 VX7, 2021 WE1, 2021 WM2, 2021 XT1, 2021 WL2, 2021 XE will make a close approach to the planet on their way to the Sun.
While it is a significant event in the celestial world, Nasa has been tracking their trajectory and their orbit as they race towards Earth. The agency has not issued any advisories on the asteroids and are set to move past the planet without any harm.
WHAT ARE THE SIX ASTEROIDS?
The biggest among the six asteroids is 2021 VX7 which is between 31-70 meters in diameter, followed by 2021 WM2 that is between 18-39 meters in size along with the 2021 WE1 that is 15-33 meters wide. 2021 XT1 is between 5.2- 12 meter, while asteroid 2021 XE is 4.7-11 meters in diameter.
Asteroid 2021 WM2 will be the fastest among the six to make the close approach at a staggering speed of 44,388 kilometers per hour. The asteroid will fly past Earth from a distance of 31,50,531 kilometers.
POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS ASTEROID TO SWING PAST EARTH ON DEC 12
While the six asteroids zoom past Earth today, a potentially hazardous asteroid will fly past the planet on December 11. Dubbed 4660 Nereus, the asteroid was first discovered in 1982 by FE Helin at the Palomar Observatory. The asteroid, which is 330 meters wide, will swing past Earth at a distance of 39,34,424 kilometers.
Nereus has been one of the most closely watched asteroids to fly past Earth for several missions, but was never selected. According to a 2008 study published by Nasa, "Nereus was an early target for the Nasa Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission that visited asteroid Eros instead. It was also the original target for Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, which ultimately visited Asteroid Itokawa. Nereus was considered as a potential candidate for several other missions that never advanced beyond the planning stages."
While the origin of the asteroid is not clear, it is speculated to be from the main belt. In the 2008 study, scientists said that the orbit of Nereus is chaotic, heavily influenced by its frequent interaction with the Earth's gravitational field. Nasa has predicted its next rendezvous with Earth to be on March 2, 2031.