A huge asteroid is making its way toward Earth and it will pass by our planet next week. Dubbed as Asteroid 2020 ND, it is classified as Near-Earth Object (NEO) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) by NASA. It is estimated to be 160 metres or 520 feet in diameter but there is no cause to worry, as it will safely fly past Earth, as it has done at least five times before as per NASA records. It won’t be the asteroid’s first-time visiting Earth as it maintains an orbit around the Sun that makes it come close to both Earth and Mars every once in a while.
What are asteroids?
Asteroids are rocks that have been left over from the formation of our solar system. Most of these asteroids are found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter; however, some orbit other planets in the system as well. NASA says there are almost 1 million known asteroids, which is why every other day we keep hearing about some or the other asteroid passing by Earth.
Asteroid 2020 ND
As per NASA data, the Asteroid 2020 ND’s first recorded approach to Earth was on July 17, 1945, and it has since passed by the planet four more times and will now cross us again on July 24, 2020. After July 24, it is set to blow past Earth in 2035, then 2074, and then 2145 and so on.
NASA doesn’t consider Asteroid 2020 ND a key scientific target. That designation is reserved for asteroids like 101955 Bennu, 10199 Chariklo, 16 Psyche, 243 Ida, 25143 Itokawa, 253 Mathilde, 433 Eros, and 4 Vesta.
When an asteroid or comet comes close to Earth we call it a near-Earth object. But how close is close? How do we keep track of them? What can we do to mitigate our risk?
— NASA (@NASA) June 30, 2020
As mentioned, Asteroid 2020 ND is around 160 meters in diameter and at its closest approach it will be 5,570,000 kms from Earth. To offer you some context on the distance, average distance between Earth and Moon is 385,000 kms. So, the asteroid is pretty far away to do any harm.