NASA says 2022’s largest asteroid will soon make its closest approach to Earth

Imagine an asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building. Now imagine it being hurled through space at a speed of 76,000 km/h, which is 20 times faster than a bullet. An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth. This asteroid, named 7335 (1989 JA), is estimated to zoom past our planet on May 27th. It is estimated to approach at a distance of 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from Earth. That’s 10 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.

The asteroid is 1.1 miles, or 1.8 km, in diameter, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is the largest asteroid to make close approach to Earth in 2022.

NASA has classified the asteroid as “potentially dangerous,” according to a report from LiveScience. This means that if the asteroid ever changes orbit and impacts Earth, it could cause tremendous damage to the planet.

This will be the only time until June 23, 2055, when asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) will narrowly miss Earth. In 2055, the space rock will be about 70 times as far away as Earth and the Moon.

NASA is currently tracking more than 29,000 Near Earth Objects (NEOs). It is a group of astronomical objects that pass within 30 million miles (48 million km) of Earth’s orbit. According to NASA, asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is larger than about 99 percent of NEOs.

This one is an Apollo class asteroid. That is, it is an asteroid that, like Earth, orbits the Sun and also crosses Earth’s orbit from time to time. To date, astronomers are aware of about 15,000 such Apollo-class asteroids.

NASA monitors these “potentially dangerous” objects and tracks them along their path to predict a close approach or impact with Earth. Research has been done to find ways to deflect NEOs that could potentially collide with Earth. A notable achievement in this direction is NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which was launched in November 2021. This is scheduled to collide with the 525-foot-wide (160-meter) asteroid Dimorphos in the fall of 2022. The collision is not intended to destroy the asteroid, just change its orbit so it doesn’t hit Earth. NASA says 2022’s largest asteroid will soon make its closest approach to Earth

Ryan Sederquist

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