What are asteroids made of?
Representational image Credit: Representational image

New Delhi: A massive and ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid believed to be as big as India’s Statue of Unity will fly very close to Earth on July 24, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) warned.

The asteroid named as Asteroid 2020ND measuring at a staggering size of 170 metres will fly past Earth. The asteroid will fly past at a whooping speed of 13.5 kms per second or 48,000 kms per hour and will come within just 0.034 astronomical units (AU) of the earth during its fly past our planet.

In scientific terms, one astronomical unit is equivalent to around 150 million kilometres or approximately the distance of Sun from Earth.

While announcing the trajectory of the asteroid, NASA said “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs.”

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA further said “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood. The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.”

“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the leftover bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today. Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces leftover from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, ” NASA added.

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