On May 27 an Asteroid twice the length of the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, will sail past our planet. The asteroid is thought to be the largest to make a close encounter this year.
Despite its size, the asteroid will travel by at a safe distance of 4 million kilometres, which is nearly 10 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The space rock known as 735 (1989 JA) is expected to fly by at a speed of 76,000 kilometres per hour from rather close quarters. To put things into perspective, the asteroid will travel at 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet.
According to Live Science, the asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) belongs to the Apollo class of asteroids, which are cosmic bodies that orbit the sun while periodically crossing or passing by the Earth’s orbit. Furthermore, the asteroid is one of the 29,000-strong family of near-Earth Objects (NOs) that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) monitors each year.
After flying past Earth on May 27, the 7335 (1989 JA) asteroid would not make another close flyby until June 23, 2055. The asteroid has been classified as “possibly hazardous” by researchers at the Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) due to its massive size. Not only are the “possibly hazardous” asteroids large, but they also have the potential to grow into the one asteroid that could collide with the Earth.
To strengthen defences, NASA deployed a spacecraft in November 2021 on the mission Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), which is directed at the Dimorphous asteroid. The collision is predicted to redirect the rock rather than destroy it.