An asteroid will zoom past Earth later this week. The asteroid in question is 2022 OE2 and it was just recently discovered by astronomers back in July. The asteroid is estimated to be around 1,200 feet across, which is roughly as tall as the Empire State Building. It will pass the Earth at a safe distance of around 3.2 million miles in its orbit around the Sun.
Recently discovered asteroid will zoom past Earth this week
An illustration of asteroids approaching Earth. Image source: auntspray / Adobe
Because the asteroid is so large, any type of collision with Earth would be catastrophic. However, as I noted above, the asteroid is estimated to zoom past Earth around 3.2 million miles away. NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) announced the close approach on Wednesday. Figures from CNEOS show that it will come within its estimated distance at around 8:23 p.m. ET that day.
Of course, the size of the asteroid is only an estimate. That’s because measuring the actual size is more difficult than you think. For the most part, astronomers must rely on how much light the asteroid reflects to determine its size. That’s because the bigger an asteroid is, the brighter it will be. As such, the brightness of 2022 OE2 seems to line up with other asteroids around 1,200 feet across.
The asteroid will travel at a staggering 72,000 miles per hour when it zooms past Earth this week, figures say. That is roughly 40 times faster than the speed of a rifle bullet. (via Newsweek)
Concept for an asteroid monitoring system to keep track of NEOs. Image source: Yuri Hoyda / Adobe
Near-Earth objects, or NEOs have become a huge point of discussion in the space community. That’s because there are now more than 29,000 near-Earth objects that we know of. And it’s possible that there are thousands more out there. These objects are often asteroids, but astronomers often title anything that passes within 30 million miles of our planet’s orbit as an NEO.
When this new asteroid zooms past Earth later this week, it will pass over three million miles away. While that is a safe distance away, space agencies are taking precautions should an asteroid of this size ever find its path directed at Earth for any reason. Both NASA and the Chinese space agency are working on asteroid redirection systems, which could change the path of asteroids by smashing spacecraft into them.