In an extraordinary celestial event, a colossal asteroid, nearly the size of a skyscraper and designated as “potentially hazardous,” is scheduled to zoom past our planet later this evening. However, scientists worldwide are assuring the public that there is no reason for alarm. In fact, this monumental event will be available for live viewing, allowing us to witness this cosmic spectacle firsthand.
The highly esteemed Virtual Telescope Project has unveiled the details surrounding Asteroid 1994 XD, the massive space rock expected to reach its closest proximity to Earth on this very night, just moments before 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. For those eager to witness this extraordinary event, a live stream of the asteroid’s flyby can be accessed on the project’s website.
Dedicated groups, including the Virtual Telescope Project, have been tirelessly monitoring the trajectory of this asteroid as it steadily approaches our planet in its designated orbit. In a remarkable endeavor, plans are already underway to provide a live feed of the asteroid’s flyby, enabling viewers around the world to witness this captivating phenomenon.
Contrary to its potentially alarming label, NASA officials have confirmed that there is absolutely no cause for concern regarding this particular asteroid colliding with Earth. The designation of “potentially hazardous” simply implies that its orbit crosses the minimal distance between Earth and the Sun, meeting the established criteria for such classification.
To ensure the safety of our planet, the NASA Center for Near Earth Object Studies (NEOS) utilizes sophisticated computer models to meticulously track the orbits of near-Earth asteroids and comets, accurately calculating their likelihood of colliding with Earth. As we navigate through the month of June, NEOS is vigilantly monitoring more than a dozen close approaches from these celestial entities.
As the asteroid inches closer, rest assured that a substantial distance will separate us from this cosmic giant, allowing us to marvel at its presence in the night sky without any apprehension. The Virtual Telescope Project emphasizes that while Asteroid 1994 XD will have a close encounter with Earth tonight, the term “close” is relative when contemplating the vast expanse of space. At its closest point, the asteroid will be situated approximately eight times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, equivalent to over 1.9 million miles.
This asteroid, named Asteroid 1994 XD, derives its name from the year of its discovery. In December 1994, the Spacewatch group at the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona first detected its presence. Though relatively small for an asteroid, with an estimated diameter ranging from 370 to 830 meters (1,214 to 2,723 feet), Asteroid 1994 XD would unquestionably overshadow most skyscrapers towering over New York City.
Astounding discoveries continue to emerge regarding this fascinating celestial object. Astronomers, utilizing the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico back in 2005, made an intriguing revelation, confirming that 1994 XD is, in fact, a binary asteroid. This signifies that it consists of a larger asteroid with a smaller moonlet gravitating around it, accentuating its captivating nature.
Thankfully, despite its potentially hazardous classification, Asteroid 1994 XD poses no direct threat to life on Earth. However, NASA remains prepared with a comprehensive plan to safeguard our planet should a significantly larger asteroid ever pose a direct threat. The successful execution of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission (DART) in 2022 showcased NASA’s ability to manipulate the orbital speed of an asteroid by launching a rocket to impact it. This breakthrough mission demonstrated the viability of such interventions as a method of planetary defense, offering a glimmer of hope for the future.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory oversees a paramount initiative