- A small asteroid recently passed through the Earth from the direction of the sun
- The UA1 asteroid was undetected by scientists until 4 hours due to its small size
- NASA is working on the DART and the NEO Surveyor mission that will enable them to detect asteroids approaching Earth
Asteroid 2021 UA1
A small asteroid, named ‘Asteroid 2021 UA1’, was recently shot past Earth last week. Scientists were unaware of the asteroid that passed the Earth. It was equal to the size of a refrigerator and has been declared as the third-closest asteroid to approach the planet without hitting. It approached within 1800 miles of Earth at the daytime side from the direction of the sun. The UA1 asteroid was undetected by scientists till 4 hours after passing by at its closest point. Because of its small size with a diameter of just 6.6 feet, scientists suggest that most of its rocky body would have burned away in the atmosphere before hitting the ground in case it had struck the Earth.
Near-Earth Object Studies
According to NASA, for an object to be considered dangerous, it has to measure at least 460 feet in diameter. With the close escape of the UA1 asteroid, NASA is now investigating defensive technologies for protecting the Earth from other possible collisions with larger space rocks. To identify and monitor near-Earth objects, NASA uses telescopes on the ground and in space. This enables the scientists to track their orbits, identify their size, shape, and composition, and pinpoint potentially hazardous objects. According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, comets and asteroids that orbit within our cosmic neighborhood, approaching Earth within 1.3 astronomical units (120.9 million miles, or 194.5 million kilometers) are considered as near-Earth objects.
The DART and NEO Surveyor Mission
NASA scientists have developed two new methods called DART and NEO Surveyor, which will help to detect and divert any asteroid before it hits the Earth. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will soon be launched to test a method for diverting asteroids by hitting them with high-speed remote-controlled spaceships. Apart from this, the NEO Surveyor will help them detect any asteroid before it hits the Earth. The mission involves developing an infrared space telescope that could improve the chances of detecting any kind of asteroid even if it approaches from behind the sun.