On September 1, asteroid 2011 ES4 will make a close approach towards Earth and will be closer to our planet than the Moon. The estimated distance of the asteroid is 1.2 lakh km. To give you a perspective, Moon is 3.84 lakh km away as it orbits around the Earth. Despite the record distance, the probability of an asteroid 2011 ES4 hitting Earth is almost negligible.
First discovered in 2011, this asteroid passes by Earth every nine years. The last time it made a close approach, it was visible from our planet for four days. However, this time it will be closest to the planet than before. The asteroid is 20 metre wide and even if it gets on the impact trajectory, it will be destroyed in the atmosphere before touching the surface.
“Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth. Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs,” NASA had said earlier this year.
The asteroid 2011 ES4 will be travelling at a speed of 29,367 km per hour. It will be the closest to Earth for another decade as asteroid 2008 DB will be in a similar trajectory in 2032.
Recently another celestial object, Asteroid 2018 VP1 was identified as it is set to pass by a day before US Presidential Election on November 2. However, the chances of it making an impact were 0.41 per cent. Because of its small shape, it will not cause any damage as the earth’s atmosphere will reduce it to ashes before it hits the surface.
According to NASA, asteroid 2011 ES4 is a NEO (Near-Earth Object), which will help scientists to study the history of our solar system.
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