An asteroid whose size can exceed the height of Corcovado Hill, in Rio de Janeiro, should pass close to Earth this Thursday (28). But don’t worry: it poses no danger to our planet.
According to NASA, the asteroid 418135 (2008 AG33) has a diameter between 350 and 780 m (Corcovado Hill is 710 m high) and is traveling at a speed 30 times greater than the speed of sound. It will enter Earth orbit at a speed of 37,400 km/h.
Lucky for us, it will pass within 3.2 million kilometers of our planet. That’s about eight times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
Far for us, close for an asteroid
This distance may seem very large, but by cosmic standards, it’s like he’s “pulling a thin” from Earth.
NASA usually warns of any space object that passes within 193 million kilometers of our planet, characterizing them as “near-Earth objects”. Any body traveling at high speed less than 7.5 million kilometers from Earth is also classified as “potentially dangerous”.
Once objects are identified, astronomers monitor closely, looking for any trajectory deviations that could put them on a collision course with Earth.
418135 (2008 AG33) was discovered on January 12, 2008 by researchers at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, Arizona, United States.
It passes our planet approximately every seven years. The last time was March 1, 2015, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). After this Thursday’s “visit”, the next one should take place on May 25, 2029.
Bigger rocks will come
Also according to the space agency, 418135 (2008 AG33) should not be the largest space rock to approach Earth in the coming days. On May 9, we will have an asteroid whose diameter can reach 860m.
Identified as 467460 (2006 JF42), it travels even faster, reaching 40,700 km/h in Earth orbit. But it won’t get that close: 5 million kilometers away from our planet, at its closest point.
Coincidence or not, on Sunday (25) China announced plans to test whether it is effective to use the impact of a spacecraft to deflect the orbit of an asteroid. The experiment should take place until 2026. The USA has also launched a mission with a similar objective.