Asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2 will pass within roughly 4 million miles of Earth on April 29, 2020. The asteroid is traveling at a cool 19,461 miles per hour, and will be the largest to come so close to our planet this year.
The threat of a catastrophic asteroid impact probably isn’t very high on anyone’s list of potential doomsday scenarios right now, given what 2020 has greeted us with. But that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t constantly assessing responses for if and when a gigantic hurtling mass of rock decides to bump up against planet Earth.
“SMALL ASTEROID TO IMPACT OVER NEW YORK CITY’S CENTRAL PARK IN 10 DAYS” So reads the fake press release for day five of the fictional impact event at this year’s Planetary Defense Conference.
There are many ways to stop an asteroid. You could attach rockets to one, steering it away from Earth. You could shoot one, knocking it off course. You could even capture one inside an inflatable bag, redirecting it elsewhere. Seriously. And then there’s the old Armageddon standby: Nuke the asteroid to all hell.
On February 15, 2013, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will glide past Earth, coming within 27,700 km (or 17,200 miles), closer than our orbiting geosynchronous satellite ring. As you can see in the above animation created by NASA, this will definitely be a close encounter.
Well, there goes 2012. It was an interesting year, sure. But past is past, and now it’s time to wonder what 2013 will bring us.
Asteroid 2005 YU55 will make an extraordinarily close flyby of Earth on November 8, 2011, passing right inside our moon’s orbit at a distance of only about 200,000 miles. The asteroid, which is roughly 1,300 feet wide (not much in comparison to the doom-maker 433 Eros, which is 8 miles, or 42,240 feet, wide), won’t impact …