- The International Astronomical Union lists over 1,500 potentially hazardous asteroids.
- On December 11, a giant asteroid with a diameter of about 330 meters will pass safely by our planet.
The near-Earth asteroid “4660 Nereus” is a frequent visitor to near-Earth space. However, the last time it flew by was on March 22, 2011, and the next visit was scheduled for March 2, 2031.
Despite the sensational headlines, 4660 Nereus will pass by at a safe distance of more than three million kilometers. This is more than ten times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
Why is it referred to as an apollo asteroid?
Near-Earth asteroids those with orbits similar to Earth’s are classified as follows:
- Apollos: Earth-crossing NEAs with axes bigger than Earth’s
- Atiras: NEAs whose orbits are entirely within the orbit of the Earth
- Amors: Earth-approaching NEAs with orbits surface to Earth’s but interior to Mars’
- Atens: Earth-crossing NEAs with axes shorter than that of Earth’s
4660 Nereus will pass close to our planet’s orbit but at a safe distance.
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Then why is it classified like a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA)?
A potentially hazardous asteroid is any near-Earth asteroid that approaches Earth at a distance of more limited than 0.05 astronomical units or 7.5 million kilometres.
Five other near-Earth objects are expected to make close approaches on December 11. NEOs named 2021 WV1, 2021 WJ3, 2021 XD2, 2021 XG, and 2021 WV1 will fly by our planet, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. The Aten 2021 XG is one of the four Apollos.
Six near-Earth objects will make close approaches on December 6: 2021 VX7, 2021 WE1, 2021 WM2, 2021 XT1, 2021 WL2, and 2021 XE.
NASA launched the world’s first planetary defense system to deflect an asteroid last month. The DART mission will collide with a small moonlet called Dimorphos at a speed of about 6.6 kilometers per second, or 24,000 kilometers per hour. The collision is scheduled for next year between September 26 and October 1.
Source: Indianexpress News