Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Asteroid 2016 NF3 to fly by Earth this week at speeds of 32,400 kmh, categorised as potentially hazardous asteroid PHA by NASA


NASA has announced that an asteroid measuring 70 - 160 metres in diameter will fly by the Earth this week at speeds excess of 32,400 kmh. The asteroid is named 2016 NF3 and has been deemed “potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA)” by the space agency, however, the asteroid does not pose any risks and it should be noted that any celestial object that gets within 8 million kilometers of Earth is categorised as a PHA. 

The asteroid 2016 NF3 will be about 5 million kms away from our planet but it would give anyone shivers to think that an asteroid that is bigger than two Airbus A380 planes placed end-to-end or the Great Pyramid of Giza will be passing at such a close distance from our planet. NASA's planetary defence officer Lindley Johnson told Space.com in an email, "There is absolutely nothing for concern by this pass of 2016 NF23. 

This object is merely designated a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) because its orbit over time brings it within 8 million kilometres of Earth's orbit, but there is nothing hazardous to Earth or even unique about this pass of the asteroid." So, there is absolutely no need to be concerned with the event. Additionally, within the next week another asteroid named 1988 SD9 will pass by the earth at four times the distance of our moon. Recently, we got news about the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was launched in 2016 to collect a small sample of the asteroid Bennu. 

The spacecraft is currently in the ‘asteroid operations’ phase of its mission where it will first capture images of the celestial object and survey its surroundings for possible hazards. At the moment, the spacecraft is a little over 2 million kilometres (1.2 million miles) away from Bennu. It’s expected to reach Bennu on December 3. You can read more about this here.

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