Asteroid news: 'Near Earth' asteroid set to swing past our planet

The space rock known as 2020 VL1 is currently moving towards the orbit of Earth. Monitoring services from NASA have revealed that the asteroid is set to cross Earth’s orbit on Friday, November 13.

While the date is considered unlucky for some, NASA has said the asteroid will safely pass Earth.

The space agency has revealed the asteroid will pass almost four times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, what is known as a lunar distance.

According to NASA, asteroid 2020 VL1 is travelling at five kilometres per second.

That’s 18,000 kilometres per hour, and while that may seem fast, it is actually relatively slow compared to the average asteroid speed, which is 18 kilometres per second.

Even if the asteroid were to change its course and head toward Earth, it is only 13 metres wide, meaning it would simply burn up in the atmosphere, posing no threat to the planet.

While the asteroid may seem a sizeable distance away, NASA has described it as a near Earth object (NEO).

NEOs give NASA the perfect opportunity to study the history of the solar system.

NASA said: “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.

“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.

“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today.

“Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

“As the primitive, leftover building blocks of the solar system formation process, comets and asteroids offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some 4.6 billion years ago.

“If we wish to know the composition of the primordial mixture from which the planets formed, then we must determine the chemical constituents of the leftover debris from this formation process – the comets and asteroids.”


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