Earth had a close encounter with an asteroid dubbed as 2019 VF1 on Monday morning at around 9.40 AM (IST). Measuring around 500 feet in diameter, asteroid 2019 VF1 has been officially designated as a "near-Earth object" by NASA. Fortunately, asteroid 2019 VF1 failed to collide with our planet or else massive casualties would have occurred.
Asteroid 2019 VF1 traveled towards Earth at a staggering 38,498mph i.e. about 63 times faster than the top speed of a Boeing 747 jet. However, the space rock flew past the Earth with a very wide margin. During its closest approach, asteroid 2019 VF1 was 3,172,582 miles (5,105,776km) away from the Earth’s centre. Importantly, it is the distance about 13 times farther from Earth than the Moon.
Earth is no stranger to close encounters with asteroids (space rocks). Recently, asteroid 2006 SF6 came dangerously close to the Earth. Measuring somewhere around 2,034 feet, the space rock has been classified as Aten asteroid. Due to the space rock’s Earth-crossing orbit and massive size, CNEOS labeled 2006 SF6 as a potentially hazardous asteroid. During its closest approach, the massive space rock came within 0.02886 astronomical units (around 2.7 million miles) of the Earth. During the flyby, asteroid 2006 SF6 reached a speed of more than 18,000 miles per hour.
In related news, a mammoth asteroid titled 2006 WH1 will come dangerously close to Earth at a staggering speed of 26,843 miles per hour on December 20. The 540-metre space rock is the same size as the World Trade Centre and would cause a significant amount of damage and mass extinction if hits Earth.
It is to be noted 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? However, a car-sized asteroid slams into the Earth's atmosphere about once in a year. On the other hand, an asteroid large enough to threaten the existence of life on Earth arrives once every few million.