APOLLO ASTEROID TO GET SUPER CLOSE TO EARTH ON SATURDAY

There has been a lot of buzz lately about asteroids, particularly the ones that fall under the category of Apollo asteroids. These near-Earth objects (NEOs) get their name from the first asteroid of this type that was discovered in 1932, called 1862 Apollo. Apollo asteroids are known for their proximity to Earth, and they have probably come closer than most people realize. In this article, we’ll explore what Apollo asteroids are, why they are of interest to us, and what we know about them so far.

What are Apollo asteroids?

Apollo asteroids are NEOs that have an orbit that brings them close to the Earth, and they cross Earth’s orbit as they do so. They share this characteristic with another type of asteroid called Amor asteroids, but Apollo asteroids have the added distinction of also crossing Mars’ orbit. They are known for their elongated, elliptical orbits, which can sometimes bring them closer to the Sun than Mercury or out beyond Mars. Apollo asteroids are named after the asteroid 1862 Apollo, which was the first asteroid found to have this type of orbit.

APOLLO ASTEROID TO GET SUPER CLOSE TO EARTH ON SATURDAY

There are over 10,000 known NEOs in our solar system, and of those, about 10% are considered Apollo asteroids. They are relatively small, with most measuring less than one kilometer in diameter. However, they are still large enough to pose a potential threat to Earth if they were to collide with our planet. Asteroids of this size can cause widespread devastation if they hit the Earth’s surface or explode in the atmosphere. Therefore, studying these objects and understanding their behavior is of great importance to scientists, astronomers, and planetary defense experts.

Why are Apollo asteroids of interest to us?

Apollo asteroids are of interest to us for several reasons. First and foremost, they are potential impactors, which means that they could collide with the Earth at some point in the future. Although the probability of a catastrophic collision with an asteroid is low, the potential consequences are severe enough that it’s worth studying and tracking these objects.

Secondly, studying Apollo asteroids can help us better understand the history and composition of our solar system. These asteroids may contain valuable resources, such as water, metals, and other minerals, that could be extracted in the future for use in space exploration and colonization. Additionally, some scientists believe that asteroids could even hold clues to the origins of life on Earth, as they may contain organic compounds and other building blocks of life.

Illustration of Apollo asteroid Itokawa, visited by the Hayabusa mission

Thirdly, Apollo asteroids are interesting to study because they could potentially be used as targets for future space missions. NASA and other space agencies are interested in sending missions to asteroids to learn more about these objects and to practice techniques for deflecting asteroids that may one day pose a threat to Earth. The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa visited the asteroid Itokawa, an Apollo asteroid, in 2005 and returned samples to Earth, providing valuable information about the asteroid’s composition and history.

What do we know about Apollo asteroids so far?

Despite their proximity to Earth and potential impact hazard, we still have a lot to learn about Apollo asteroids. However, scientists have made significant progress in recent years in detecting and tracking these objects and understanding their characteristics.

We now know that Apollo asteroids are mainly made up of rock and metal and that their surfaces are covered in craters, which is a sign of their long history of impacts with other objects in space. Some Apollo asteroids may also have small amounts of ice or other volatile substances, which could make them more interesting targets for future space mining efforts.

Animation of the asteroid 2018 UA passing close to Earth

The majority of Apollo asteroids follow stable orbits and do not pose an immediate threat to Earth. However, there are still some that have yet to be discovered or tracked, which means that there is still a small chance that one of these asteroids could collide with our planet in the future.

Fortunately, scientists are working hard to detect and track these objects and come up with strategies for deflecting them if necessary. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) is responsible for detecting and tracking NEOs, including Apollo asteroids, and developing methods for preventing a collision with Earth. These methods include deflecting the asteroid with a spacecraft or, in extreme cases, using nuclear weapons to break up the asteroid.

FAQ

Q: How likely is it that an Apollo asteroid will collide with Earth?

A: The probability of an Apollo asteroid colliding with Earth is very low. NASA estimates that the chance of a catastrophic collision with an asteroid larger than 1 kilometer in diameter is less than once in every 500,000 years. However, smaller asteroids could still cause significant damage if they were to collide with populated areas.

Q: What is NASA doing to prevent a collision with an asteroid?

A: NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) is responsible for detecting and tracking NEOs, including Apollo asteroids, and developing methods for preventing a collision with Earth. The PDCO works with international partners to detect, track, and characterize NEOs, and it also develops strategies for deflecting them if necessary, such as using a spacecraft to deflect the asteroid’s trajectory.

Conclusion

Apollo asteroids are a fascinating and potentially dangerous type of near-Earth object. Although the probability of a catastrophic collision with an asteroid is low, the potential consequences are severe enough that it’s worth studying and tracking these objects. Studying Apollo asteroids can also help us better understand the history and composition of our solar system and could even provide valuable resources for space exploration and colonization. It’s important that we continue to monitor and track these objects to ensure the safety of our planet and to further our understanding of the universe around us.

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Apollo Asteroid to Get Super Close to Earth on Saturday

APOLLO ASTEROID TO GET SUPER CLOSE TO EARTH ON SATURDAY

Small asteroid passed closer than TV satellites | Space | EarthSky

Potentially hazardous Apollo asteroid galloping towards Earth, likely

Potentially Hazardous Apollo Asteroid Galloping Towards Earth, Likely

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