Earlier this week, stargazers were treated to a special view of the annual Orionids meteor shower. The celestial event peaked on Friday, October 21st as Halley’s Comet made its way around the sun. Now though, after the peak last week, Earth-dwellers should prepare for another nearby celestial event. However, this time a massive asteroid the size of one World Trade Center will come careening uncomfortably close to our planet. Fortunately, though, the asteroid is set to soar right past our green and blue planet.
According to Newsweek, the asteroid measures between 1,000 and 2,430 feet in diameter. Experts predict that the massive space rock, named 2022 RM4, will fly past Earth on Tuesday, November 1st.
How Likely Is It That Such a Massive Space Rock Could Strike Earth?
In a nutshell, not very likely.
Per the outlet, the asteroid is currently traveling at nearly 53,000 miles per hour. It’s expected to come within 1,427,801 miles of our planet. For perspective, our moon is just 238,900 miles away and our closest planetary neighbor, Venus, is 38 million miles away. That said, scientists state the chances of such a massive asteroid, or any like it slamming into the earth are extremely low.
“This asteroid will not hit us,” Franck Marchis, a senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, assured. “We already have a good measurement of its orbit and know that it will pass nearby us in November 2095 but still at…[one percent of the distance from the Earth to the Sun]. Nothing to be worried about.”
Gretchen Benedix, an astrogeologist at Curtin University, further assured readers that the chance of an asteroid such as 2022 RM4 hitting our planet is one per 100,000 years depending on its size.
Speaking with the news outlet, she explained, “in the next 1,000 years, the odds of an asteroid of this size hitting [the earth] are 0.001% (or 0.01 per 1,000 years).”
Scientists state that asteroids like 2022 RM4 are “bits of planets that didn’t happen.” They instead found their way into orbit within the Main Asteroid Belt situated between Mars and Jupiter.
Why Are Scientists So Interested In This Asteroid If It Won’t Hit Earth?
Aside from its fascinating origin story, why else is studying 2022 RM4 so important? Well, more than anything, scientists took note of the orbiting space rock essentially due to its size.
Asteroids range drastically in size, from 329 miles to just a couple of dozen feet. Marchis, speaking about the nearby asteroid, shared his own interest in the space rock.
“What is interesting in the case of this asteroid is simply the fact that it’s a very large one and we recently discovered it,” he said, “implying that our survey of the large population of near earth asteroids is not yet fully complete.”