Asteroid (File Photo)
A 141-feet long asteroid named as ‘2019 NN4’ is all set to approach towards the Earth today at 10:52 am (IST). Is it a sign of worry for us? Nope, because the asteroid 2019 NN4 will zoom past the Earth and we are safe. It is worth mentioning here that the asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets. The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Over 7 lakh asteroids have been found in space so far. In the recent times, asteroids including 2019 OK, 2019 OD, 2015 HM10, 2019 OE, 2019 NN3, 2019 MB4, 2019 MT2, 2006 QV89, 2016 NO56M, RF12 and others approaching towards our planet, luckily did not collide with the Earth. These asteroids would have brought tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic.
Coming back to the asteroid 2019 NN4, the space rock was spotted by NASA. According to the space agency’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid 2019 NN4 is almost as big as the Chicago Water Tower. Asteroid NN4 was categorized by CNEOS an Amor asteroid due to its orbital path around the Earth and the Sun.
“Near-Earth Objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter Earth’s neighborhood,” CNEOS said.
“Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter,” the agency noted.
CNEOS estimated that 2019 NN4 will fly past the Earth on July 29 at 1:22 am ST i.e. at 10:52 am (IST). During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.01698 astronomical units or around 1.6 million miles from the planet’s centre. The asteroid is currently traveling at a speed of 8,400 miles per hour. 2019 NN4 was first observed on May 8, 2019. After its upcoming approach, CNEOS predicted that the asteroid will return to Earth’s vicinity on June 20, 2027.