Every 12 months, like Earth, the NASA Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) completes its orbit of the Sun. According to NASA, the survey telescope creates a sky-map by taking pictures along the way that are then stitched together.
The locations and luminosities of millions of celestial objects are displayed on this sky map. NEOWISE aids researchers in keeping an eye out for asteroids that might strike the planet. And fresh ones are continually being discovered. An asteroid that is currently travelling toward Earth has prompted NASA to issue an asteroid warning.
Asteroid 2019 AY3 has drawn the attention of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. Today, January 4, the enormous 190-foot-wide asteroid—which is about the size of an airliner—is anticipated to pass Earth at a distance of 6.4 million kilometres.
One of the fastest asteroids to fly close to Earth in the last few days, the asteroid is already on its way to Earth and moving at an astounding speed of 71704 kilometres per hour.
Even though it is not anticipated that this asteroid will hit Earth, its trajectory could be drastically altered by the planet’s gravitational field, sending it hurtling toward the planet’s surface with disastrous results.
The NEOWISE Project, which uses NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer as a survey telescope to search the sky for Near-Earth Objects, assists in observing the majority of these asteroids. NASA then collects precise information about the asteroid’s characteristics and path using its ground-based radar.
Using the NEOWISE images, NASA has so far created 18 sky maps; the 19th and 20th maps will be made public around March 2023. These maps have allowed NASA scientists to produce a time-lapse of the sky that displays changes in the positions of numerous celestial objects over the course of the previous ten years.
By making this change, scientists will be able to study how the positions and brightness of space objects have changed over the past ten years, contributing to a better understanding of the Universe. Time-Domain Astronomy is the study of this.