An asteroid larger than the Statue of Liberty will fly past Earth at 8:20 p.m. GMT on Christmas Day. This is based on data from the NASA Center for Near-Earth Studies.
Named 2014 SD224, the asteroid will be within 0.02019 astronomical units, or nearly 1.9 million miles, of the Earth’s surface.
2014 SD224 is between 92 and 210 meters (302 to 690 feet) in diameter – meaning it can be more than twice the size of the Statue of Liberty (305 feet) or taller than Salisbury Cathedral (404 feet).
When the 2014 SD224 flies past Earth, it is traveling at a speed of 10 kilometers per second, or more than 22,000 miles per hour – roughly 30 times the speed of sound.
Although the asteroid is about eight times farther from the moon, it is classified as a near-earth object (NEO) and is being tracked by the space agency.
Asteroid 2014 SD224 (also known as 501647) and its trajectory in relation to the orbits of the planets in our solar system. The earth’s orbit is light blue
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SPACE ROCK
A asteroid is a large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.
A comet is a rock that is covered with ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.
A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.
These debris themselves are known as meteorite. Most are so small that they evaporate in the atmosphere.
If one of these meteorites makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite.
Meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites usually come from asteroids and comets.
Although the 2014 SD224 – which can be tracked on NASA’s website – is 1.9 million miles away, astronomically speaking, it’s relatively close.
For this reason, NEO defines SD224 in 2014, although no damage is expected.
NEOs are asteroids, or comets, the orbit of which places it in or through a zone between approximately 91 million km (195 million km) from the Sun, meaning that it is within approximately 50 million km (30 million miles) from Earth orbit.
If the object is more than 140 meters in diameter, it is considered a Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO).
“NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been propelled into orbits by the gravitational pull of nearby planets that allow them to get close to Earth,” NASA said.
‘Comets mainly consist of water ice with embedded dust particles. Comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system, while most rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is mainly based on their status as relatively unchanged debris from the formation process of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.”
According to publicly available NASA data, 24,629 NEOs were discovered Tuesday.
It is estimated that there are approximately 25,000 Near Earth Objects (NEOs) larger than 140 meters.
There are also an estimated 1,000 NEOs larger than a kilometer in size, underscoring the need to keep an eye on these space rocks.
On average, the earth is hit every 5,000 years by a stone the size of a football field and every one million years by an asteroid with the end of civilization, according to NASA’s near-earth object program.
NEOs are asteroids, or comets, the orbit of which places it in or through a zone between approximately 91 million km (195 million km) from the Sun, meaning that it is within approximately 50 million km (30 million miles) can pass from earth orbit (picture from a picture agency)
“If we are constantly looking for asteroids, we expect that over time we will find the majority of asteroids on a hundred-meter scale, each passing many years or decades before any possible impact on our planet,” said Paul Chodas, director at NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Studies, Newsweek said.
“We’ve already inventoried over 95 percent of the really large asteroids (1 kilometer, or 0.62 miles, and larger), and we know none of them stand a chance of having an impact in the next century.”
Last month it was revealed that an asteroid the size of a London bus missed Earth only 386 km on Friday, September 13th
The space rock, known as “2020 VT4”, was not discovered until 15 hours after its closest approach by the Last Alert system with terrestrial asteroid impact on Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
Had it got much closer, the 5 to 10 meter wide body would have been burned in the atmosphere over the South Pacific.
Its orbit put it roughly the same distance from Earth as the International Space Station, making it the closest asteroid to have passed Earth so far.
Astronomers look for asteroids larger than 450 feet because they can cause “catastrophic damage”.
Researchers have discovered most asteroids that are about a kilometer tall, but are now looking for those that are about 140 m tall – as they could cause catastrophic damage.
While no one knows when the next big impact will happen, scientists are under pressure to predict and intercept their arrival.
Pictured artist’s impression
“Sooner or later we will … have a small or large influence,” said Rolf Densing, head of the European Center for Space Operations (ESOC) in Darmstadt
It may not happen in our lives, he said, but “the risk that the earth will one day be hit in a devastating event is very high.”
“At the moment there is little we can do.”