Asteroid Twice As Big As Empire State Building to Fly Past Earth Next Week
An asteroid that could be up to two times as wide as the height of the Empire State Building is going to fly past Earth next week—but our planet will be spared a collision.
The asteroid, known as 1999 RM45, is going to pass within just 1.8 million miles of Earth at around 7:52pm UTC on Tuesday March 2, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Studies (CNEOS). On an astronomical scale, this distance is tiny. In astronomical units (au)—a measure of distance astronomers use for mapping celestial objects—it is just under 0.02. The Sun is roughly 1 au away.
When the space rock passes by the Earth, scientists think it will be travelling at around 44,700 miles per hour—about 50 times faster than a handgun bullet. The close pass is estimated to be the nearest the asteroid will come to the Earth for decades to come. 1999 RM45 is not predicted to strike the Earth for the foreseeable future or at least until the year 2200, the limit at which NASA stops making data available.
The space rock is classified as a member of the Apollo asteroid group. An Apollo classification means that, at some point in its orbit, the asteroid will cross the path of Earth's own orbit.
https://www.newsweek.com/nasa-asteroid- ... ng-1571285
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Was it a meteor? A broken-up satellite? Maybe a UFO? Leave it to an astronomer to identify what caused the light show that was visible over a wide stretch of the Pacific Northwest around 9 p.m. PT tonight.
Jonathan McDowell, an expert satellite-tracker at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, quickly figured out that the meteoric display was actually the breakup of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stage, left over from a launch that took place more than three weeks ago.
“The Falcon 9 second stage from the Mar 4 Starlink launch failed to make a deorbit burn and is now re-entering after 22 days in orbit,” McDowell tweeted.
It’s fitting that the re-entry of a rocket stage from a Starlink satellite launch provided a moment of marvelment from Seattle to Portland and beyond. After all, those satellites are manufactured at SpaceX’s facility in Redmond, Wash., and it’s conceivable that members of the Starlink team caught the show.
Not long after the orbital debris burned up — harmlessly, by all appearances — the internet was burning up with photos and videos of the fireworks show.