TECHNOLOGY

13 asteroids head towards Earth this weekend, including ‘potentially hazardous’ Nereus

With their massive potential for destruction, asteroids have recently become a topic for universal interest. Hundreds of asteroids head towards Earth every year. Agencies like NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) keep a track of these asteroids and monitor the largest ones as they fly past Earth.

In the coming days, several asteroids will pass us including the supermassive 4660 Nereus, which is as big as a football stadium and is worth an unimaginable $5 billion in precious metals. Asteroids this big are always a threat and studies are ongoing to find a way to save Earth from a catastrophic asteroid impact event in the future. As per NASA, the probability of massive asteroid Bennu hitting Earth between 2100 and 2300 stands at a probably one in 1750.

Such dangerous prospects of asteroid collision have also prompted the space agency to test a new technology called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), in a mission which aims to deflect asteroid Didymos off its path.

As per NASA’s CNEOS asteroid tracker, a total of 13 asteroid will head towards Earth and pass us this weekend. Starting from three asteroids today and two tomorrow, six asteroids will fly past on Saturday (including Nereus) and two on Sunday.

Here’s a complete list of the asteroids passing Earth this weekend:

Thursday, December 9

  • 2021 WA3: The house sized asteroid is around 12 m – 28 m in size and will pass Earth at a nearest distance of 6,582,217 kms.
  • 2021 WW3: Another similar sized asteroid at 11 m – 24 m in size will pass at a distance of 2,124,334 kms
  • 2021 XX2: A smaller asteroid, the size of a bus at 5.2 m – 12 m, will come relatively close at 762,829 kms.

Friday, December 10

  • 2021 XM3: A sizable asteroid as large as a commercial airliner at around 53 m – 120 m, will pass at a distance of 2,639,324 kms.
  • 2021 XZ2: Similar sized 16 m – 36 m long asteroid will pass at a safe distance of 3,170,408 kms.

Saturday, December 11

  • 2021 WV1: The small bus-sized asteroid which is around 5.3 m – 12 m will pass Earth at a distance of 577,447 kms.
  • 2021 XQ2: The relatively larger asteroid at 23 m – 51 m will pass Earth at around 3,847,657 kms.
  • 2021 XG: The small 6.9 m – 15 m asteroid is expected to fly past at 2,950,070 kms.
  • T4660 Nereus (1982 DB): The most humongous, asteroid Nereus is huge at 330 meters, which makes it 90% larger than all other asteroids. Categorized as a potentially hazardous asteroid, its impact will be calamitous. Nereus will fly past at a distance of 3.9 million kms, more than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
  • 2021 XD2: The house-sized asteroid at 9.5 m – 21 m will pass at a distance of 1,353,860 kms.
  • 2021 WJ3: The asteroid at around 15 m – 34 m in size will pass at a closes distance of 3,796,793 kms

Sunday, December 12

  • 2021 WQ1: The 20 m – 45 m sized asteroid will pass at a distance of 2,991,957 kms
  • 2021 XE3: The final asteroid of the weekend is around 10.0 m – 22 m in size and passes relatively close at 801,844 kms.

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