An asteroid bearing the desingation of 2024 CB1 will be approaching within 14,57,210 kilometres of the Earth, or less than four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, on 16 February, 2024. The asteroid measures between 40 and 90 metres across, and will be travelling at 17.53 kilometres per second. 2024 CB1 is the only close encounter scheduled to take place on the day. Most asteroids in the Solar System occupy the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter. However, there are many populations of asteroids at various distances from the Sun. 2024 CB1 belongs to a population of asteroids known as Apollos, that orbit the Sun between Earth and Mars, and frequently visit both the planets.
What are called asteroids?
The Sun was formed about 4.5 billion years ago from an extra dense clump of matter within a vast cloud of gas and dust. The leftover material from the formation of the Sun resulted in a circumstellar disc, which became the site where all the planets in the Solar System were assembled. It was during this time that the comets and asteroids were formed, along with exotic objects that have the composition of comets but the size and shapes of asteroids, known as centaurs. Asteroids are rocks that orbit the Sun, and are time capsules, preserving the conditions during the infancy of the Solar System. This is why scientists are so interested in investigating asteroids, and mount expensive sample return missions, as they can tell us much about our past.
Is an asteroid a meteor?
Asteroids are distinguished from comets and centaurs because of their composition. They are made up of primarily rock or metal, whereas comets and centaurs are primarily made up of ice. When an asteroid or comet enters the atmosphere and burns up because of the extreme friction, it is known as a meteor. A meteor that disintegrates in the sky itself is known as a bolide. An asteroid is considered to have struck the planet when it enters the atmosphere, even if no fragments survive and reach the ground. Asteroids can become meteors, but not all asteroids are meteors, and not all meteors are asteroids.