A huge asteroid made its way past Earth on this Thursday. However, you need not worry because there is no chance of it colliding with our planet. The space rock is estimated to have a size about three times the length of a football field and passed Earth at a distance of about 6.7 million kilometers on June 27. The asteroid has been named as 2008 KV2 and will be under observation by NASA as it gets close to Earth.
When we consider the word ‘close’ in terms of space, it is actually really far. To give you a perspective, the moon is at a distance of about 384,400 km away from Eartha, and 2008 KV2 was travelling at a distance that is 17 times that distance. The 2008 KV2, as the name suggests, was discovered in 2008. The asteroid is not a one-time visitor because it is orbiting the sun and will be making another pass in 2021 with two other passes scheduled for 2022.
2008 KV2 is classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO). In order to attain this label, the asteroid must be passing within a million kilometers of Earth’s orbit. Despite the fact that the 2008 KV2 was at quite a distance, it has been classified as ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ as per the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at JPL. Why? Because of its unusually large size and comparatively close passing.
The rock passed Earth at 0.05 astronomical units (AU) – one AU is equal to the average distance between the sun and the Earth – at a speed of about 40,800 km/h. Asteroids have been the primary focus for NASA for the last twelve months. Back in April, the Planetary Defense Conference was conducted that had scientists discuss strategies for tracking and analyzing NEOs. Another huge asteroid that has been named Apophis that will be passing Earth on April 13, 2029, was on top of the list.
David Farnocchia, an astronomer at JPL’s Center for Nea Earth Object Studies, said, ‘We already know that the close encounter with Earth will change Apophis’ orbit, but our models also show the close approach could change the way this asteroid spins, and it is possible that there will be some surface changes, like small avalanches.’