Asteroid dubbed “possibly hazardous” is expected to pass close to Earth.
According to NASA, an asteroids categorized as “possibly hazardous” and longer than a football field will make a close pass to Earth.
Asteroid 2021 GM4 is a Goliath among near-Earth asteroids, measuring 150 meters in length, substantially longer than a full football field (120m). According to NASA, the asteroid is currently cruising through the solar system at a speed of 6.3 kilometers per second, or 22,680 kilometers per hour.
On July 1, the asteroid will make its closest approach to Earth.
It will be 12 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon at that moment.
This asteroid, understandably, poses no threat to Earth.
NASA, on the other hand, has classified the asteroid 2021 GM4 as “possibly hazardous.”
The word “possibly dangerous” does not necessarily imply that an asteroid is a direct threat to Earth.
Rather, it alludes to the possibility of an asteroid colliding with Earth at some point in the solar system’s future.
The gravitational attraction of other celestial bodies in the solar system, for example, is one unknown element that could impact the asteroid’s future route.
“Asteroids’ orbital routes are occasionally altered by the gravitational attraction of planets, causing their paths to change,” NASA added.
“Scientists believe that wayward asteroids or debris from previous collisions slammed into Earth in the past, playing a significant influence in our planet’s evolution.”
The Yarkovsky effect can potentially lead an asteroid to deviate from its intended path.
When a space rock is heated in direct sunlight and then cools, radiation is released from its surface.
“This radiation exerts a force on the asteroid, acting as a type of mini-thruster that can gradually change the asteroid’s orientation over time,” NASA explained.
However, the space agency tried to assuage any fears, stressing that a catastrophic asteroid strike of such size is not expected for several centuries.
“NASA is aware of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the likelihood of a large collision is extremely remote,” it stated.
“In fact, no major object is likely to strike the Earth in the next several hundred years, as far as we can tell.”