International Asteroid Day: Asteroids celebrate good fortune by flying past Earth | Technology News

Two asteroids, one of which was discovered in early June, flew past Earth this week, a rare event marking International Asteroid Day, according to space agencies around the world.
He said that there is no threat to the planet from any of these asteroids.

Explaining footage taken by the Virtual Telescope Project, astronomer Gianluca Masi said asteroid 2024 MK, about 200 metres in diameter, was at a distance of about 300,000 kilometres when it was closest to Earth – 77 per cent of the distance from the planet to the Moon.

Masi, the founder and director of the crowd-funded service provided by Italy's Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory, was the commentator of the live-streamed YouTube feed at around 2:30 pm IST on June 30. According to the commentator, the asteroid was closest to Earth about 10 hours before the feed went live.

“It is a massive asteroid that is coming quite close (to Earth) this time, but fortunately there is no threat to our planet,” Masi can be heard saying.

“But being so close and so large, this object was very bright at the time of approach, so if you were in the right part of the world, such as the southwestern US, you could see it with a modest telescope, my friends,” Masi said, calling the asteroid's flyby an “extraordinary” event.

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Furthermore, moving at an average speed of nine metres per second, Masi said the celestial object was “strange” because it was moving at a speed “quite fast”, unlike the stars.

The flight has been perfectly timed to coincide with International Asteroid Day on June 30. The day, which is also backed by the United Nations, marks the anniversary of the biggest asteroid strike in recorded history in 1908, when an airburst over Tunguska in Siberia destroyed more than 80 million trees.

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Remnants of the solar system's formation, asteroids are often called 'minor planets.' There are thought to be about a billion of these irregularly shaped rocky bodies orbiting the sun.

Asteroid 2024 MK, discovered on June 16, 2024, highlights the need to continue improving our ability to detect potentially hazardous objects in our cosmic neighbourhood, ESA said in a statement.

The second asteroid, named (415029) 2011 UL21, is the larger of the two asteroids approaching Earth this week. At 2.3 kilometers in diameter, the asteroid is larger than 99 percent of all known near-Earth objects (NEOs), according to the ESA.

According to the Virtual Telescope Project, an asteroid of this size comes closest to us every 10 years on average.

At its closest approach to Earth, asteroid 2011 UL21 was about 6.6 million kilometers away, more than 177 times the lunar distance — it was a “really safe encounter,” according to Masi, the commentator on the June 27 YouTube livestream.

Masi said the asteroid is among the top 10 largest asteroids to come within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth since 1900.
ESA said there are an estimated 5 million NEOs that are larger than 20 metres – the limit above which a collision could cause damage on the Ground.

As part of its planetary defence projects, ESA hopes to launch the Hera mission in October 2024, the statement said. Hera is tasked with conducting a detailed post-impact survey of the asteroid Dimorphos, which was targeted by NASA's planetary defence mission on September 26, 2022.

The US space agency's mission, called 'Double Asteroid Redirection Test' (DART), was the first demonstration of deflecting an asteroid by striking it in such a way that it is forced to change its trajectory in space. According to NASA's website, DART hit the moon Dimorphos, about 160 metres in diameter, which was orbiting a larger asteroid called Didymos, about 780 metres across.

Chrisfin Karthik, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, and one of the architects of the DART mission, had then told PTI that it was definitely a step towards preparing the world for a possible event in the future, like the one believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago.

“We are surrounded by numerous asteroids and comets that orbit our Sun. Very few of them are potentially dangerous for the Earth. So, it is better to prepare our defences to avoid such asteroids hitting the Earth in the future,” Karthik said.

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