Asteroids have the ability to bring about the end of the world, especially if they collide with a heavily populated area. To combat this existential menace, space organisations continue to develop technologies for asteroid avoidance and mitigation. While NASA’s DART Test successfully diverted an asteroid, other organisations are ramping up their planetary defence efforts. The most recent planetary defence initiative comes from a California-based charity organisation that is attempting to address this problem by developing a novel asteroid deflection technology that would use the space rock’s own regolith to alter its course away from Earth. An asteroid is now speeding towards Earth and will reach its closest approach today.
Asteroid 2023 LH2
The asteroid, identified by NASA’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as Asteroid 2023 LH2, will make its closest approach to Earth today, June 6, at a distance of 7.2 million kilometres. It is speeding towards Earth at a terrifying 28544 km per hour. The Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) includes asteroid 2023 LH2.
Although this asteroid is moving at breakneck speed, it is not huge enough to do catastrophic harm to Earth. With a width of approximately 110 feet, it is comparable to large aeroplanes! It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are space rocks that pass the Earth with semi-major axes greater than the Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the massive 1862 Apollo asteroid, which was discovered in the 1930s by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth.
Asteroids are studied by scientists to understand more about the early solar system and the circumstances that existed before the planets formed. Asteroids can also supply vital resources including water, metals, and minerals. Asteroids are classified into three types: C-type, S-type, and M-type. The most common are C-type asteroids, which are predominantly made of carbon-rich compounds. S-type asteroids, which are mostly composed of silicate materials, are rarer. M-type asteroids, which are mostly made of metal, are the rarest.
But why are asteroid studies so important? According to scientists, study is crucial because it can reveal important information on the early phases of the solar system and planetary evolution. Furthermore, these celestial bodies may contain valuable resources such as metals and water, which might be used in future space expeditions.