Science

A Gigantic Asteroid May Pass Close To Earth In February

A gigantic asteroid classified by NASA as “potentially hazardous” is traveling towards Earth. The rock will likely miss our planet, but may come decently close.

Gigantic Asteroid
MasterTux / Pixabay

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids

It’s important to preface this article by stating that a “potentially hazardous” classification by NASA does not necessarily mean that these bodies pose an imminent threat to us here on Earth. Rather, the description simply means that this gigantic asteroid has a possibility to impact at some point in the future, depending on the way its path changes over time. With the huge amount of distance we’re talking about in terms of outer space, “decently close” means close to three million miles away. To give you a sense of the distance, the Moon orbits earth at a distance of around 240000 miles. While the gigantic asteroid is wider than the New York One World Trade Center, that size is dwarfed when you consider the distance from our planet.

According to a post on their website, NASA classifies any space object that is over 459 feet wide and passing within 4660000 miles as hazardous, and there are currently around 1000 known space objects currently being monitored by the space agency. With a diameter of 3696 feet, this most recent entry into the books is a truly gigantic asteroid, but overall a very low probability of actually causing us any harm.

Asteroid 2002 AJ129

The gigantic asteroid is known as 2002 AJ129, and will “narrowly” miss our planet on February 4, travelling past us at the rapid speed of 67000 miles per hour. This makes it one of the biggest and fastest space objects to fly near Earth this year.

As mentioned above, the chance of this gigantic asteroid hitting earth is incredibly low, but that’s provided that it continues on its current trajectory. Scientists have stated that an impact from a meteor of this size could have a large effect on our planet.

At a presentation during the American Geophysical Union, Charles Bardeen of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said that “These would not be pleasant times [were an impact of that size to occur].”

AJC reports that a 2016 found the impact of as slightly smaller object would start a mini ice age. Apparently this gigantic asteroid could cause a drop in worldwide temperatures of as much as 8 degrees Celsius, which could affect many animals’ habitats around the worlds in addition to the damage such a large body could cause if it hit land. There is some evidence that a mini ice age might help reverse some of the effects from global warming, but the ice age would last for several years, which could cause more problems than it fixes.

Long story short, we probably don’t have to worry about the gigantic asteroid 2002 AJ129 impacting us any time soon, but a piece of space rock of that size could cause quite a few problems if it were to actually touch down on Earth. Let’s hope that this particular gigantic asteroid stays on its current trajectory and remains a “near miss.”