Apollo group asteroid to come as close as 2.3 mn km to Earth; NASA reveals its speed, size, and more

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NASA, with the help of its advanced space and ground-based telescopes, has recently tracked an asteroid that is set to pass Earth at very close quarters today, January 6, and the US space agency has shed light on details such as its speed, distance of approach, and more. Apart from posing a threat to Earth, asteroids can also provide valuable resources such as water, metals, and other minerals. In fact, it is surmised that water was brought to Earth by asteroids and comets over a period in excess of millions of years. Research on asteroids is critical since it can provide valuable information on the early stages of the solar system and planetary development. Know all about the asteroid that is set to pass Earth in the coming days.

Asteroid 2024 AC: Details

The asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2024 AC, is travelling towards Earth in its orbit at a breakneck speed of 24444 kilometers per hour, which is almost as fast as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBMs! NASA expects this space rock to fly past Earth at a close margin of approximately 2.3 million kilometers on January 6.

While this asteroid will pass by closely, it isn’t big enough to cause panic or any potential damage. As per NASA, the asteroid is approximately 85 feet wide, making it almost as big as an aircraft. However, if it crashes on Earth, it could still cause damage to a certain degree. In 2013, a smaller 59-foot asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia, damaging 7000 buildings and injuring over 1000 people injured.

This space rock belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.

NASA has also revealed that Asteroid 2024 AC has passed Earth before and this isn’t its first approach. It first came close to Earth on December 18, 1976, when it passed by a distance of about 45 million kilometers. After today, this Apollo group asteroid will pass Earth again later this year on June 23, at about 47 million kilometers.

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