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An Asteroid Zipped Closer than the Moon’s Orbit

On Sunday, a bus-sized Asteroid passed safely close to our planet. At a distance of about 155,000 miles, 2021 TG14 passed by Earth (250,000 km). That’s well inside our moon’s orbit, which travels at a distance of approximately 239,000 miles on average (385,000 km). NASA is always interested in comparative approaches like this, just in case astronomers can obtain some valuable telescope time to see a small world up close. Asteroid were shards of the early solar system when our neighborhood was a jumble of cold and stony tiny bodies.

All of the object’s orbital parameters have been made publicly available by NASA. In addition, the agency’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office keeps an eye on potentially dangerou with the help of other government agencies and a network of partner telescopes. Still, this Asteroid isn’t one of them. There are no impending hazards to our world, according to scientists. Coincidentally, the approach occurs when are once again making headlines in both truth and fantasy.

NASA launched its Lucy mission on Saturday (Oct. 16), eventually focusing on Trojan  in Jupiter’s orbit. These have never been seen before up close. OSIRIS-REx, an Asteroid sample-return mission, is also underway at the agency. Its sample return capsule is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023, carrying fragments of Bennu, a near-Earth. NASA’s Psyche mission, which will explore a metal Asteroid up close, will also launch in 2022.

These new missions are only the latest in a long line of spacecraft that have swung by tiny bodies in our solar system, some collecting samples in the process. In fiction, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill feature in the Netflix dark comedy “Don’t Look Up,” released in December.

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