Whoaaaa! NASA has confirmed that an asteroid the size of a house will fly by Earth this week at an insanely close 26,000 miles away.
Consider that the moon is nearly 239,000 miles away then you know how close 26,000 miles really is.
“It’s damn close,” Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, told The Telegraph. “The farthest satellites are 22,000 miles out, so this is indeed a close miss,” he said.
There is no chance the asteroid will hit the Earth. The rock’s closest approach will be over Antarctica at 1:42 a.m. ET on Thursday.
We will apparently be taking this change to test our planetary defense system, which I didn’t even know was a thing!
Thursday, NASA will conduct a drill to see how well its planetary defense system would work if an actual asteroid were heading straight for Earth.
While these sort of drills have been done in the past with pretend asteroids, this one will feature a real asteroid, one that astronomers are confident will miss the Earth.
“The question is: How prepared are we for the next cosmic threat?” said Vishnu Reddy of the University of Arizona and NASA consultant. “So we wanted to test how ready we are for a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid,” he said.
“Scientists have always appreciated knowing when an asteroid will make a close approach to and safely pass the Earth because they can make preparations to collect data to characterize and learn as much as possible about it,” said Michael Kelley, a NASA program scientist.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which is leading the drill, is the federal entity in charge of coordinating efforts to protect Earth from hazardous asteroids. It’s responsible for finding, tracking and characterizing potentially hazardous objects coming near Earth and issuing warnings about possible impacts, should there be an actual threat.