The Phaethon Asteroid passed us by just a couple of weeks ago, but it appears as if the small asteroid YZ4 will soon make an appearance just over 100000 miles away from Earth.
While the Phaethon Asteroid passed by relatively close when you consider the huge distances in space, the asteroid YZ4 is coming far closer at just 139433 miles away. To put that in perspective, the moon is around 238000 miles away from Earth.
It’s important not to get too worried about the asteroid YZ4, as 100000 is still a significant distance in practical terms. Still, if the asteroid were to veer off course, it is close enough to cause some potential damage.
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What’s perhaps even more concerning is the fact that scientists didn’t detect the asteroid until December 24th. A NASA spokesperson commented on asteroid YZ4, as well as other Near-Earth Objects that could potentially pose a threat.
“As of December 24, there are 17,495 known Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) around our planet. 17,389 are asteroids. This year, we discovered 1,985 new near Earth asteroids. There were 1,888 such objects discovered in 2016 and 1,571 in 2015.”
It’s easy to see that there’s a huge amount of space debris floating out there. The majority of these asteroids don’t pose a threat to earth, but there are tens of thousands of near-earth objects that could potentially come in contact with us here on Earth at some point in the future. The fact the asteroid YZ4 is passing by so close and wasn’t detected until just a few days ago puts into perspective just how little we know about our universe – and even the space directly surrounding us.
Asteroids and Near-Earth Objects
NASA monitors any near-Earth object that passes within six million miles of Earth. Six million miles away seems like a huge distance, and practically it is, but at those distances a deviation in orbit or trajectory could result in an impact. 139433 miles is a miniscule amount when compared to six million, so it’s clear that the asteroid YZ4 is worth our attention
Another aspect to take into account is the size of asteroid YZ4. Despite passing very close to earth, the object is very small in the grand scheme of things – measuring in at only 40 feet in diameter. However, an impact from any asteroid – even one that small – could cause some serious damage.
We’ve been observing asteroids for hundreds of years, with the first asteroid – Ceres – observed by Giuseppe Piazzi way back in 1801. There’s a huge amount of objects out there, with over 600000 known asteroids just in our solar system. The majority of these asteroids are found in the Asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but there are stray asteroids that pass close to us here on Earth.
There’s little cause for alarm regarding the asteroid YZ4, but it’s definitely passing close enough to warrant significant attention from NASA. Still, the space agency insists that it has no knowledge of any asteroid that will impact Earth within the next 100 years. Asteroid YZ4 wasn’t discovered until a couple of days ago, however, so it’s definitely possible that there’s a threat lurking nearby.