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Massive asteroid to pass by earth on April 29, but there's no need to panic, say scientists

Scientists have joked that the latest image of the asteroid looks like it is wearing a mask due to dust and debris passing around it

twitter-logoBusinessToday.In | April 28, 2020 | Updated 18:31 IST
Massive asteroid to pass by earth on April 29, but there's no need to panic, say scientists
Asteriod 1998 OR2

An asteroid named 1998 OR2, is expected to pass by Earth on April 29 at a distance of 6.2 million kilometres away from the planet. The asteroid has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO) but will harmlessly fly by the earth on April 29  according to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Scientists have joked that the latest image of the asteroid looks like it is wearing a mask due to dust and debris passing around it.

The observatory had initially observed the asteroid on April 13 and had continued to follow it till April 23, at which point the asteroid was no longer visible from the facility. Arecibo has confirmed that the asteroid is at least 2 km in diameter and rotates once every 4.1 hours. The closest that the asteroid will ever come to the earth would still be more than sixteen times the distance between the moon and Earth.

Any asteroid that is bigger than 140 meters and comes within 8 million kilometres of Earth orbit is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO). According to the daily, no known PHO poses an immediate danger to earth but scientists always keep an eye out for them.

"The radar measurements allow us to know more precisely where the asteroid will be in the future, including its future close approaches to Earth," Flaviane Venditti, a research scientist at the Arecibo Observatory said.

"In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely," she added. Commenting on the structure of the asteroid Venditti said, "The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically."

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