asteroid 2006 QQ23 (File Photo)
Many of you might not be knowing that Earth had a close encounter with a giant asteroid named as 2006 QQ23. Yes, you read it right. Classified as “potentially hazardous” by NASA, asteroid 2006 QQ23 was reportedly bigger than the Empire State Building zip past the Earth on Saturday. Going by the size, the space rock was 1,454 feet tall. Asteroid 2006 QQ23 could have hit with a force 500 times that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Well, we were lucky enough.
Many deadly asteroids have approached towards the Earth in recent times, but did not collide with our planet. Yes, we are very lucky in this case. Importantly, asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. The space rocks (asteroid) approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. According to a report published by spacetelescope.org, there are more than 7 lakh asteroids that have been found in space. Asteroids are mainly found in an area called the ‘main belt’, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Scientists have so far identified over 5000 near-Earth asteroids of more than 300 m diameters. NASA, however, says that the Earth is safe from any significant space threat for at least a century. The maximum number of near-Earth asteroids (over 10,000) are of less than 100 m diameters. Even if these asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere, such space rocks will disintegrate into smaller parts without posing any significant danger.
Well, asteroid 2006 QQ23, bigger than a 100 storey building was tracked by NASA as it zoom past Earth on Saturday, highlighted the threat posed towards our planet by space rocks.
NASA’S CNEOS estimated that the space rock came within about 4.55 million miles of the Earth and whizzed past at 10,400 miles per hour. It is worth mentioning here that the distance may seem like there’s no risk at all but any fast moving space object that comes within around 4.65 million miles is considered to be "potentially hazardous" by the space organisations.
Asteroid 2006 QQ23 hasn't got this close to Earth since 2001. However, the space rock is expected to come near our planet again on February 15, 2022.
Danica Remy, president of the non-profit organisation B612 Foundation, works to protect the planet from asteroids. She said, “It’s 100 per cent certain that we’re going to get hit, but we’re not 100 percent certain when.” "The real issue is that we need to have an inventory of all the asteroids," she added.
Fortunately, NASA has not yet discovered such an asteroid, estimating that at least 95 percent of asteroids 1km (3,280 feet) or larger have been recorded, with none posing a threat to the planet. According to NASA, asteroids as large as 2006 QQ23, however, would wipe out an entire city and wreak widespread destruction in a direct collision.
A simulation from NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies in May demonstrated the impact of an object such as 2006 QQ23 would kill 1.3million people.
Kelly Fast, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Observation program, said, “The whole point is to be able to find all of these asteroids and to catalog their orbits precisely and to calculate them into the future.” “So, you know if it is going to pass 19 lunar distances away like 2006 QQ23,” Kelly added.