The ‘potentially hazardous’ celestial body will miss our planet by around 2 million kilometers, the US space agency says
An asteroid the size of a large skyscraper is zipping past Earth around Halloween at a relatively close distance of just over 2 million kilometers, according to NASA estimates.
The celestial body, designated 2022 RM4, was detected last weekend and is considered “potentially hazardous” due to its parameters – which are between 330 and 740 meters (1082 to 2427 feet). Its closest approach to Earth on November 1 will make it about 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 miles) away, roughly six times more than the average distance to the Moon.
The US space agency flags as potential threats all asteroids that come within some 7.5 million kilometers (4.6 miles) and measure at least 140 meters (459 feet). Such objects are tracked by many astronomers to check if their orbits were calculated correctly.
Asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass less than 6 lunar distances on Tuesday. This is very close for an asteroid this size. Possibly as large as 740 meters, it is much larger than the ~50 meter asteroid that created Meteor Crater in Arizona. #2022RM4https://t.co/l1VN9Tt2Ar pic.twitter.com/UtRs5IvMUq
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) October 30, 2022
Last month, NASA crashed a robotic spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos to test how big of an impact it would have on its trajectory. The project was researching possible actions to take in order to divert a catastrophic collision, should humanity be able to detect the threat in time to launch countermeasures.
The agency deemed the DART mission a success that conceptually proved the approach to planetary defense. It reduced the asteroid’s 11-hour-and-55-minute orbit around its larger parent asteroid, Didymo, by 32 minutes, it reported last month.