Asteroids, asteroids and asteroids! Now-a-days, you must be hearing a lot about the space rocks that are small, rocky objects. A large number of asteroids are hovering all around the Earth and we might get hit too sooner or later. Earth had yet another close encounter with an asteroid identified as 2017 TJ4 on Saturday. Yes, you read it right. Fortunately, asteroid 2017 TJ4 failed to collide with our planet or else massive casualties would have occurred. It is worth mentioning here that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. It is said that one day all life on the Earth will be extinct. Not only life, but the Earth will also extinct someday and an asteroid could be the possible reason. Shocked to hear that? Well, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. Whereas, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once in every few million.
Coming back to asteroid 2017 TJ4, the space rock came dangerously close to Earth on Saturday at around 5.15 pm (IST) at a staggering speed of 19,863mph. The space rock had zip past the Earth from a distance of around 0.03447 astronomical units. Notably, a single astronomical unit measures the distance between the Earth and the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km). This means asteroid 2017 TJ4 had zoom past Earth by just 3.2 million miles (5.15 million km).
The space rock, which measures somewhere in the range of 78.7ft to 177ft (24m to 54m) in diameter, will come close to Earth next year on February 11, 2020. Then, the asteroid will make two more Earth close approaches in August 2030 and January 2031. Importantly, the asteroid was first spotted flying around the solar system on October 13, 2017.
The astronomers have classified asteroid 2017 TJ4 as “Near-Earth Object” or NEO and an Aten-type asteroid. It is to be noted that all NEOs are comets and asteroids that come flying close to Earth.
In the related news, Asteroid 1998 HL1, the biggest space rock, will dangerously come close to Earth on October 25 at around 10:50 pm (IST). With an estimated diameter of 3,248 feet and traveling at a velocity of 25,000 miles per hour, 162082 (1998 HL1) is certainly a dangerous asteroid. If the supergiant asteroid hits Earth, it would create a crater that’s several miles wide. On the other hand, if 1998 HL1 strikes a city, the entire area will be completely wiped out. Whereas, if the asteroid hits the ocean, it will trigger mega-tsunamis that will destroy coastal and nearby inland areas. Asteroid 1998 HL1 is classified as “Potentially Hazardous asteroid” (PHA) and as an Apollo, by NASA.