130-foot asteroid to come as close as 1.5 mn km to Earth; NASA reveals speed, and other details

Did you know that not all asteroids have the same composition? According to NASA, the three primary classifications of asteroids are C-type, S-type, and M-type. C-type asteroids, which are composed primarily of carbon-rich substances, are the most frequent. S-type asteroids, which are made up mainly of silicate minerals, are less common. M-type asteroids, which are primarily composed of metal, are the least prevalent. One asteroid, whose composition is still unknown, is set to pass Earth today, January 18. Know all about this close encounter.

Asteroid 2024 AP2: Details

Asteroid 2024 AP2 is expected to pass Earth at a distance of just 1.5 million kilometers and at a speed of 21189 kilometers per hour which is almost as fast as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)! It is important to note that while it has been termed as a Near-Earth Asteroid due to its close distance of passing, it is not expected to actually impact the planet.

It 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.

How big is the asteroid?

NASA has not designated Asteroid 2024 AP2 as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. Only celestial objects larger than 492 feet that pass Earth at a distance closer than 7.5 million kilometers are designated so, and Asteroid 2024 AP2 does not fulfill one of these requirements. In terms of size, Asteroid 2024 AP2 is almost 130 feet wide, making it almost as big as an aircraft.

According to NASA, this will not be Asteroid 2024 AP2’s first-ever close approach to Earth. The first time it came close to the planet was on January 18, 1910, when it passed at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers. After today, it will pass Earth again on January 8, 2025, at almost 48 million kilometers.

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