An asteroid listed as “potentially dangerous” will approach Earth this weekend. Specifically, on Saturday you will find 0.03 astronomical units – an astronomical unit is the distance from our planet to the Sun – a figure that, although it seems very low, means about 5.7 million kilometers. All objects that pass less than 0.5 AU (about 7.5 million kilometers) fall within this range, so they are viewed with magnifying glass by astronomical observatories.
Called 2002 PZ39, it was discovered on August 10, 2020, as explained by NASA itself. It measures approximately half a kilometer in length and has a rotation period of 6.2 days. Its speed is 55,000 kilometers per hour. According to the CNEOS portal, responsible for monitoring all near-Earth objects (NEO) where you can see the data of the next potentially dangerous asteroids for our planet, the next few days other space rocks will approach, without However they will be much smaller.
In fact, it is quite common for bodies of this type to approach, which makes this kind of event a “routine.” However, work to locate and control asteroids is vital in the security of our planet. Thus, there are already some plans of different space agencies (including the European Space Agency or ESA) to deal with a possible asteroid impact against Earth. There are even programs underway like HERA or DART to test the effectiveness of these theoretical plans.
The smaller, the more dangerous
Currently, there are about 900 objects near our domains that measure more than a kilometer in diameter, much larger than the one that will approach us this weekend. However, the problem is not the size, since these rocks are much easier to observe and, therefore, predict their orbit. The issue becomes more complicated with small asteroids, which cannot be seen at great distances: that reduces the reaction time from Earth.
That is why it is estimated that only 0.05% of NEOs between 30 and 100 meters in length are controlled, while we only know 0.01% of rocks less than 30 meters. For example: the meteorite that exploded over the sky in the Russian town of Chelyabinsk and caused more than 1,000 injuries and damages in hundreds of houses only measured 19 meters in diameter.
On pages such as the NASA JPL Center or the ESA NEO portal, you can check in real time the “threats” of these objects and the probability that their orbit coincides with our passage in space. And, for now, the warnings have a relatively low danger, so calm must reign. For now. .