NASA says that the orbits of asteroids can be changed by Jupiter’s massive gravity and by occasional close encounters with planets like Mars or other objects. These accidental encounters can knock asteroids out of the main belt and hurl them into space in all directions across the orbits of the other planets. With the help of its advanced space and ground-based telescopes, NASA has now revealed that an asteroid is expected to pass Earth by a close margin today, December 19. Know the details of this close encounter.
Asteroid 2023 XS: Details of close approach
Most of the asteroids are mainly found in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. However, on a few occasions, the orbits of these asteroids bring them close to Earth, a phenomenon known as a ‘Close approach’. According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, an asteroid, given the designation of Asteroid 2023 XS, is on its way towards Earth and could pass Earth at a very close distance today, December 19.
NASA revealed these details after tracking the asteroid’s orbit using its various satellites and space and ground-based telescopes such as NEOWISE, Catalina Sky Survey, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Pans-STARRS1, and more. As per the details, Asteroid 2023 XS is expected to pass Earth by a distance of 4.3 million kilometers.
According to NASA, It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s. It is already hurtling in its orbit at a speed of about 32653 kilometers per hour, which is much faster than an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)!
NASA has also revealed that Asteroid 2023 XS has not passed Earth before and this will be its first-ever close approach. After today, this Apollo group asteroid is not expected to pass by the planet anytime in the near future.