An asteroid, the size of the Burj Khalifa– the world’s tallest building, is set to skim past Earth in less than a month, Nasa has warned. The asteroid 2000 QW7 measures between 290 metres and 650 metres in width and it is almost 828 metres in height.
It is expected to whiz past our planet at a speed of 23,100 km per hours on September 14, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), a part of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Even though the asteroid 2000 QW7 is a near-Earth object, the CNEOS said the asteroid will be flying past us at a safe distance of 3.3 million miles or 5.3 million kilometres.
Asteroids and other space materials are considered near-Earth objects if they pass within 1.3 astronomical units of our planet, where one astronomical unit is equal to the distance from Earth to the sun, or 92.9 million miles or 149.6 million kilometres. Thus, the 200 QW7 will be passing by the Earth at a distance of 0.03564 astronomical units.
Just like Earth, asteroid 2000 QW7 orbits the sun and it only occasionally crosses paths with our planet. The last time it approached the Earth was on September 1, 2000. After its flyby on September 14, it is expected to pass by Earth not before October 19, 2038.
Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk pointed out on Twitter last week that Earth currently has no defence against ‘killer’ asteroids. Responding to a tweet about the asteroid Apophis — dubbed as the ‘God of Chaos’ that is expected to scrape past Earth in 2029, Musk pointed out that there is, currently, no defence system to protect our planet.
Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson also warned about the Apophis 99942 hitting the Earth, causing a major tsunami that can wipe out the entire west coast of North America.
As per NASA, hundreds of space debris and rocks burn in their entry into the planet’s atmosphere on a daily basis. Even asteroids that are larger and aren’t burned up in the atmosphere, can strike the Earth at least once a year, creating some damage. However, Earth does not have a working method to deflect asteroids if they threaten to impact the Earth but they have some theories that have not been tested yet.
One of those techniques is called gravity tractor, which alters the course of the asteroid. It involves a spacecraft that rendezvous with an asteroid without landing on its surface, maintaining its relative, optimal position, to use the mutual gravitational attraction between them to slowly alter the course of the asteroid.