Earth to witness a close encounter with an Apollo-group asteroid today

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NASA has revealed details of a close approach of an Apollo-group asteroid that is rushing towards Earth at a speed of over 28,000 kilometers per hour. The asteroid, designated as 2023 RH, will make its closest approach to Earth today, September 7, at a distance of just 1.6 million kilometers.

What is an Apollo-group asteroid?

An Apollo-group asteroid is a type of Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) that has an orbit that crosses the Earth’s orbit. These asteroids are named after the first and largest member of this group, 1862 Apollo, which was discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in 1932. According to NASA, there are more than 10,000 known Apollo-group asteroids, and some of them are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) due to their size and proximity to Earth.

Earth to witness a close encounter

How big and fast is 2023 RH?

According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), 2023 RH has an estimated diameter of about 28 meters, which is comparable to a large aircraft. It is traveling at a speed of about 28544 kilometers per hour, which is much faster than most satellites and rockets. It will pass by Earth at a distance of about 1.6 million kilometers, which is about four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Is there any risk of impact?

NASA has assured that there is no risk of impact from 2023 RH, as it will safely fly past the Earth. However, the space agency monitors all NEAs that come within 50 million kilometers of the Earth’s orbit, as they could pose a threat in the future due to gravitational perturbations from other planets or asteroids. NASA also conducts missions to study NEAs, such as the OSIRIS-REx mission that collected samples from asteroid Bennu in 2020, and the upcoming DART mission that will test a kinetic impactor on asteroid Dimorphos in 2022.

Why are asteroids important for science?

Asteroids are remnants of the early solar system, and they can provide valuable insights into the origin and evolution of planets and life. By studying their composition, structure, and dynamics, scientists can learn more about the formation and history of the Earth and other worlds. Asteroids can also offer resources for future space exploration, such as water, metals, and minerals. Some asteroids may even contain organic molecules or evidence of past or present microbial activity.

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