Asteroid 441987 (2010 NY65), twice the size of the Statue of Liberty (187 meters), which NASA called “potentially dangerous,” will pass Earth in the coming weeks. It is traveling at 13.4 kilometers per second, or more than 48,000 kilometers per hour.
The asteroid will reach its point of maximum approach to Earth on June 25. At this point, it will be at a distance of 15 times the distance from Earth to the Moon. At the same time, NASA experts consider it close enough to be called a near-Earth object and “potentially dangerous”. While “dangerous” status does not guarantee collisions, there are factors that can affect the asteroid’s path. Sometimes the orbital trajectories of asteroids are affected by the gravitational pull of planets, which causes their trajectories to change. Scientists believe that random asteroids or fragments from earlier collisions have crashed into Earth in the past, playing an important role in the evolution of our planet.
A force known as the Yarkovsky effect can also cause an asteroid to veer off course. The effect occurs when space rock is heated by direct sunlight and cooled to release radiation from the surface. “This radiation exerts a force on the asteroid, acting as a kind of mini-motor that can slowly change the asteroid’s direction over time,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained.
The experts added that near-Earth objects are comets and asteroids displaced by the gravitational pull of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the near-Earth neighborhood. Scientific interest in comets and asteroids stems largely from their status as relatively unchanged debris left behind during the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
Whereas the giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) were formed from a cluster of billions of comets, and the pieces and fragments left over from this process are the comets we see today. Asteroids are pieces and fragments left over from the original agglomeration (formation by sintering of large porous pieces of fine ore or dust-like materials – note “Lenta.ru”) of planets such as Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.
In April, NASA experts said that they will be prepared for a collision of a conventional asteroid with the Earth. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will conduct a large-scale study. The exercise will allow specialists from the national government and relevant organizations in other countries to develop a plan that will help avoid collisions with celestial bodies or minimize the damage from such incidents.