19:46 GMT27 July 2021
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    NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), located in California, is tasked with detecting and tracking space objects that come particularly close to our planet, as it is believed that asteroids larger than 1 km in diameter could have dramatic consequences for our home.

    An asteroid measuring between 1.8 km and 4.1 km in diameter will “closely approach” Earth on 29 April, the CNEOS’s tracking list revealed. The near-Earth object (NEO) is officially called 52768 (1998 OR2) and previously came close to Earth on 12 March 2009.

    The object is moving at a speed of about 8.7 km per second, but there is likely no need to panic, as it will only approach Earth at a distance of around 0.04205 astronomical units. For comparison, one astronomical unit equals about 150 million kilometres – roughly the distance between the Sun and our planet – meaning that 1998 OR2 is unlikely to find itself closer than 6.29 million km from us on 29 April.

    However, NASA still treats these kinds of approaches as particularly “close” ones, even if they are tens of millions of kilometres away.

    NEOs are tracked very carefully by the space agency, as it was argued in the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy, distributed in 2018, that “objects close to and larger than one kilometre can cause damage on a global scale”, including tsunamis or other secondary effects.

    Tags:
    near-Earth objects (NEO), asteroid, Earth, NASA
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