Messages and articles that ensure that An asteroid “more than 1000 kilometers in diameter” will pass “close” to Earth on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 they were shared more than 22,500 times on social networks since December 31, 2021. But nevertheless, NASA’s announcement establishes that on that date the asteroid 7482 (or 1994 PC1) It will be at a distance of 1.9 million kilometers from planet Earth, and that its diameter is 1,052 kilometers, according to the United States space agency.
“Asteroid with a diameter of more than a thousand kilometers will approach Earth this January, and I cannot help but think about it. Don’t Look Up”, say some of the posts circulating on Facebook and Twitter, and also articles.
The Web page Eyes on Asteroids (Eyes on Asteroids) from NASA, offers the possibility of follow the course of comets, asteroids and other space objects, surrounding in near space. Unlike dozens of articles that warned about an alert launched by the space agency about a possible impact of asteroid 7482 with the Earth, this rocky element not a problem at all.
According to his career and the opinion of several astronomers cited by the entity, its passage through our planet does not represent a danger in this opportunity. Estimates indicate that will approach to a distance of 1.93 million kilometers, with a margin of error of 133 kilometers. Specialists detailed that this distance is equivalent to 5.15 times the journey from Earth to the Moon.
In this way, NASA and its researchers ruled out the possibility of a collision of asteroid 7482 with our planet. In this sense, they affirmed that their closest step will be this afternoon at 6:15 p.m. in Argentina.
What is known about asteroid 7482 (or 1994 PC1)
Asteroids are rocky objects smaller than planets, formed about 4.5 billion years ago. Most orbit the Sun, generally between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In 1994, the Scottish astronomer Robert H. McNaught discovered asteroid 7482 at the observatory Siding Spring in Australia, which was classified by NASA, the United States space agency, as a “near-earth asteroid” (NEA, for its acronym in English) and an “asteroid potentially dangerous” (PHASE).
“All asteroids with a minimum distance of 0.05 astronomical units approximately 7,480,000 km or an absolute magnitude of 22.0 (140 m) or less are considered PHAs”, NASA points out in its website. Objects within this classification They are the ones that pass “closest” to the Earth., explained to AFP Factual andrea sanchez, PhD in Astronomy from the University of the Republic, in Uruguay.
According to information from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), On January 18, 2022, asteroid 7482 will be the closest it has ever been to Earth.: 0.013 astronomical units, which is equivalent to 1.9 million kilometers.
This distance is “super safe”, since it will pass “five times farther than the Moon is from Earth”, so “there is no danger of impact”, assured Sánchez. The next time that asteroid will be at a similar distance (0.015 astronomical units), it will be in 2105, data from the NASA. According to the space agency, the diameter of this rocky object is 1,052 kilometers and not 1,000, as the viral publications indicate.
NASA’s California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory collects in a Web page data on asteroid 7482. There is a table with the physical parameters of the space rock, in which indicates a diameter of “1,052 km”, a figure erroneously interpreted by viral publications as a number greater than a thousand kilometers.
Although the international standard establishes the use of the comma to separate the integer part from the decimal, it is typical of English-speaking countries to use the point to separate decimals, explains the Royal Spanish Academy. Therefore, when reference is made to the diameter of the asteroid being “1,052 km”, it means that it is one point fifty-two kilometers, that is, 1,052 meters.
The diameter of asteroid 7482 is “just over a kilometer”, Sanchez told the AFP, and added, by way of comparison: “The [asteroide] The most famous was the extinction of the dinosaurs” and “that object was 10 kilometers” in diameter. In any case, there are asteroids 1,000 kilometers in diameter, such as the Ceres, which “is an exception”, commented the astronomer, because not only is it an asteroid, but it was also classified as a dwarf planet due to its size.
“An Asteroid Approaching: Can What Happens? don’t look up?”, “¿Don’t Look Up?”, users ask in different publications that circulate on social networks, referring to the film Don’t Look Up of 2021 that counts the story of two astronomers who must warn humanity that a comet will destroy planet earth.
Some entries add: “Specialists have been studying for a long time the possibility that this really happens” and so, ”In November 2021, NASA launched the DART spacecraft, the world’s first mission to will seek to impact an asteroid in space and thus test planetary defense techniques”.
The November 24 2021, NASA began the mission DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test): a small spaceship took off for the purpose of crashing into a mini asteroid to change its trajectory, as a test for any potentially dangerous asteroids in the future.