Latest India News | Aten group asteroid to pass Earth by a close margin, reveals NASA

NASA’s Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which is responsible for monitoring the skies and keeping a watch on various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), has issued details about an asteroid that is expected to pass by Earth today, November 21. The asteroid, designated Asteroid 2023 VW5, will pass the planet by a close margin of 1.7 million kilometers. As per NASA, this space rock is travelling in its orbit at a breakneck speed of approximately 40269 kilometers per hour. Here’s all about Asteroid 2023 VW5.

Asteroid 2023 VW5: Details of close approach

NASA has revealed that Asteroid 2023 VW5 belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, which are Earth-crossing Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) with semi-major axes smaller than Earth’s. They are named after the asteroid 2062 Aten and the first of its kind was discovered by American astronomer Eleanor Helin at Palomar Observatory on January 7, 1976.

Despite its close approach, Asteroid 2023 VW5 does not pose any potential threat to the planet due to its relatively small size and hasn’t been classified as a Potentially Dangerous Asteroid. With a width of around 89 feet, the space rock is as big as an aircraft. It is bigger than the Chelyabinsk asteroid, the 59 feet wide asteroid that exploded over the Russian city in 2013, damaging 7000 buildings and leaving over 1000 people injured.

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What’s more astonishing is that this is not the first time that this asteroid will come close to Earth. Its first-ever close approach in recorded history took place on September 4, 1901, as it passed the planet by a distance of 69 million kilometers. After today, the next time this asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth will be on August 26, 2026, when it will pass by at a distance of 36 million kilometers.

Asteroid hunting using AI

Did you know that astronomers have also turned to algorithms for asteroid hunting? According to a study published by the University of Washington, an algorithm, named HelioLinc3D, helped researchers discover a potentially hazardous asteroid. Asteroid 2022 SF289, which is almost 600 feet wide, was discovered during the algorithm’s test in Hawaii and has not been deemed as dangerous in the foreseeable future. The HelioLinc3D algorithm uses Rubin’s dataset to find and track asteroids.