Asteroids are abundant in space and as many as 1298148 have been discovered to date. To track and study these space rocks which are mainly present in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, NASA has several advanced ground and space-based telescopes in place. NEOWISE telescope, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Pans-STARRS1 and Catalina Sky Survey are just some of the telescopes and observatories that help study asteroids and remove any uncertainties around their potentially close approaches to Earth.
In a new development, NASA has revealed that an asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today. Know all about it.
Asteroid 2023 TT8 details
The asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2023 TT8, is already on its way towards Earth travelling at a staggering speed of 28525 kilometers per hour in its orbit around the Sun. NASA expects this asteroid to make its closest approach to Earth today, October 16, and it will pass by a distance of almost 2.2 million kilometers.
While this asteroid will pass by closely, it isn’t big enough to cause a panic. As per NASA, the asteroid is between 42 feet and 90 feet wide. However, if it crashes on Earth, it could still cause damage to a certain degree. In 2013, a similar 59-foot asteroid exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia, damaging 7000 buildings and injuring over a 1000 people.
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 Wilhelm Reinmuth in the 1930s.
Shockingly, while it has passed Earth before, this will be Asteroid 2023 TT8’s first-ever close approach in history. As per the details provided by NASA’s Small-Body Database Lookup, it will not make another close approach to the planet in the near future.
NASA’s Psyche mission
The Psyche mission, which launched on October 13, is part of NASA’s Discovery missions. NASA will study an asteroid called 16 Psyche which is currently orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. One of the most astonishing facts about this asteroid is that it is made up of gold, silver and nickel deposits, making it metal-rich. According to NASA, it could be worth more than Earth’s economy put together. It is worth a staggering $10 quadrillion!
Other than its gold-rich structure, the outer surface of this asteroid is nickel-rich which resembles an early planet’s core. The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for 21 months to map the asteroid and gain information about the makeup of the asteroid as well as learn how metal core asteroids and planets are formed.
This will be an important step to study the formation of Earth itself as well.