Why Are So Many Asteroids Having Close-Calls With Earth In 2020?
Sat, 09/26/2020 – 18:55
Have you noticed that it seems like stories about asteroids that are approaching the Earth are constantly in the news this year? It wasn’t always this way. In the old days, maybe there would be a story about an asteroid every once in a while, and those stories were never a big deal. But now asteroids are zipping by our planet with frightening regularity, and several more very notable passes will happen over the next few weeks.
For example, an asteroid that was just discovered on September 18th will come very, very close to the Earth on Thursday. According to NASA, it will actually come closer to our planet than many of our weather satellites…
An asteroid about the size of an RV or small school bus will zoom past the Earth on Thursday, NASA announced, passing within 13,000 miles of the Earth’s surface.
That’s much closer than the moon and is actually closer than some of our weather satellites.
This asteroid will speed by at more than 17,000 mph, but the good news is that it is so small that it would not be a serious threat even if it hit us.
But two other very large asteroids are also going to pass the Earth by the end of this month, and both of them are large enough to do an enormous amount of damage…
Two large asteroids will pass Earth in the next two weeks, with one measuring up to 426 feet in diameter and the other 656 feet—comparable in size to ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, which is 455 feet tall.
The first, smaller asteroid will pass by Earth on September 25 at a distance of 3.6 million miles, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks and predicts asteroids and comets that will come close to Earth. The second larger asteroid will fly by on September 29 at a closer distance of 1.78 million miles.
The good news is that neither of them have a chance of hitting us this time around, but the fact that the Earth’s neighborhood has so much “traffic” these days is a major concern.
Any soldier will tell you that if enough bullets get fired at you there is a very good chance that eventually you will get hit.
Let me give you a couple more examples of “near Earth objects” that are headed our way in the near future…
In October, an “unknown object” is expected to enter our gravitational field and become a temporary “mini-moon”…
An object known as 2020 SO is heading towards Earth, and from October, it will be a ‘mini-moon’, which could stay in orbit of our planet until May next year. While we have The Moon, Earth regularly gets many small asteroids and meteors which caught in its orbit, which astronomers call ‘mini-moons’.
And in November, we are being told that a small asteroid will come very close to our planet on the day before the election…
An asteroid is projected to come close to the Earth on November 2, a day before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the Center for Near Earth Objects Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed.
The asteroid known as 2018VP1, first identified at Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, has a diameter of 0.002 kilometers (over 6.5 feet), according to the data.
Scientists say that it is not likely that this asteroid will hit us, but they admit that they cannot claim this with 100 percent certainty…
And that’s why the future of 2018 VP₁ is uncertain. It was observed 21 times over 13 days, which allows its orbit to be calculated fairly precisely. We know it takes 2 years (plus or minus 0.001314 years) to go around the Sun. In other words, our uncertainty in the asteroid’s orbital period is about 12 hours either way.
That’s actually pretty good, given how few observations were made – but it means we can’t be certain exactly where the asteroid will be on November 2 this year.
Fortunately, this particular asteroid is also too small to seriously hurt us, and we should be thankful for that.
But the fact that so many space rocks have been headed our way is definitely alarming.
Back in August, an asteroid the size of an SUV came extremely close to hitting our planet. The following comes from NASA…
Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).
What made that incident so unsettling was the fact that NASA didn’t even see it until it had passed us…
The flyby wasn’t expected and took many by surprise. In fact, the Palomar Observatory didn’t detect the zooming asteroid until about six hours after the object’s closest approach. “The asteroid approached undetected from the direction of the sun,” Paul Chodas, the director of NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, told Business Insider. “We didn’t see it coming.”
Unfortunately, the truth is that our scientists simply cannot see everything that is up there.
They are doing their best, but everyone agrees that our technology is limited.
But over the last 20 years our technology has definitely improved, and at this point the number of asteroids that our scientists have identified is far greater than it was a couple of decades ago…
The animation maps out all known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) — space rocks that get within about 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of our planet’s orbit — from 1999 through January 2018, in roughly 10-year time steps.
The differences are stark. In 1999, identified NEAs speckled the inner solar system thinly, in a light dusting. Many more were discovered by 2009, and Earth’s neighborhood looks absolutely swamped in the present-day portion of the video.
Of course more giant space rocks are being discovered all the time, and unfortunately many of them are not identified until after they have had a close encounter with our planet.
If NASA couldn’t see the asteroid that almost hit us in August in advance, what else can’t they see?
And is it just our imagination that the number of close calls seems to be increasing, or are scientists just getting a whole lot better at detecting them?
At this moment we don’t have all the answers, but we should be thankful that our experts are trying to keep a close watch on the skies because scientists tell us that it is just a matter of time before we are hit by a giant asteroid.
In the movie Deep Impact, such a scenario was called an “extinction level event”.
As I write this article, there are thousands of giant space rocks floating around up there that could cause such a disaster, and NASA is working to catalog them all as rapidly as they can.