An asteroid whose orbit will bring it near to Earth has recently been illuminated by NASA. Today, September 22, is predicted to be the day when this Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) makes its closest approach to the planet. Although this space rock will pass relatively near to the earth, an impact with the surface is not anticipated. Asteroid 2023 RQ6 will fly past Earth at a distance of around 6 million kilometres, according to NASA. With a scorching speed of 33912 kilometres per hour, it is already moving towards the Earth.
Is asteroid 2023 RQ6 potentially dangerous?
The Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA has not designated this asteroid as a Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO) because to its very tiny size, despite its close approach and rapid speed. These are celestial bodies that are bigger than 490 metres and can come within 7.5 million km of Earth. NASA estimates that Asteroid 2023 RQ6 is around 76 feet broad, making it the size of an aeroplane.
The space agency also disclosed that it is a member of the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, a class of space rocks that travel near Earth and have semi-major axes that are greater than Earth’s. These asteroids were found in the 1930s by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth and are named after the enormous 1862 Apollo asteroid.
It’s interesting to note that this asteroid will be making its first-ever near approach to Earth after never having done so before. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it won’t likely pass Earth again after today.
NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission
The majority of asteroids are situated in the main asteroid belt, which is between Jupiter and Mars’ orbits, and they never approach Earth. Bennu, a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) that NASA estimates has a 1/2700 probability of striking Earth between the years 2175 and 2195, is an exception to this rule. On September 8, 2016, NASA launched the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) to assist in its attempts to analyse this asteroid and its composition.
In 2020, this spacecraft touched down on the asteroid and took soil and rock samples from its surface. The mission is almost done, and on September 24 it will return to Earth after a 6-year term. The sample-containment capsule will be released by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft when it approaches the Earth’s atmosphere, and it will drop to the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range where the mission crew will be waiting to recover it.