Asteroid as big as an aircraft to pass Earth soon, says NASA; it will return in 2170

It is already known that most asteroids are located in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But sometimes, these space rocks interact with a large planet’s gravitational field which can send them tumbling towards the planet for potential impact. To minimize uncertainties around their close approaches, NASA uses its advanced space and ground-based telescopes such as the NEOWISE telescope, Pans-STARRS1, and Catalina Sky Survey. Using this advanced tech, the US Space Agency has shed light on an asteroid that is set to pass Earth at close quarters today, January 24. Know all about its close approach to the planet.

Asteroid 2024 AL6: Details

The asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2024 AL6 by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), is travelling towards Earth in its orbit at a breakneck speed of 97280 kilometers per hour, which is much faster than most space shuttles! NASA expects this space rock to fly past Earth at a close margin of approximately 2 million kilometers today.

While this asteroid will pass by closely, it isn’t big enough to cause panic or any potential damage. As per NASA, the asteroid is approximately 82 feet wide, making it almost as big as an aircraft. However, if it crashes on Earth, it could still cause damage to a certain degree. In 2013, a smaller 59-foot asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia, damaging 7000 buildings and injuring over 1000 people injured.

This space rock belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.

NASA has also revealed that Asteroid 2024 AL6 has not passed Earth before and this is its first approach. After today, it will come close to Earth again on January 2, 2170, at a distance of nearly 62 million kilometers.

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