The NASA scientists were surprised as an asteroid passed the Earth’s surface without detection. The concerned asteroid was refrigerator-sized, and it swooshed past the planet a few days back.
Details of the Asteroid
Asteroid 2021 UA1 has a diametric size of 2 meters, and it passed the Earth by Antarctica at a distance of 3,000 km. The NASA scientists are shocked at the fact that they had not seen it coming. The asteroid was relatively small in size, as giant as a golf cart. As per the reports, it is the third closest alien object that flew past the planet.
The asteroid just grazed past the earth’s southern hemisphere, which was still at a more considerable distance from International Space Station. Catalina Sky Survey first spotted this alien object. It is an astronomical survey to discover comets and asteroids. As per CNET, it is a NASA-funded project supported by the Near-Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO) that works to identify threatening asteroids. The newly discovered asteroid just missed Antarctica by 1800 miles on Sunday evening. If it struck the atmosphere, it was most likely to have burned up, the reports suggest.
Why were the scientists not aware of it?
Asteroid 2021 UA1 had emerged from a blind region. It started to approach the Earth from behind as it came towards the Sun’s direction to travel outwards. Hence, it gets difficult to notice such objects near the planet, which becomes more complex during daylight when vision is reduced due to Sun’s glare.
An asteroid with a diametric size between 42 and 94 meters just grazed past the planet on September 16, 2021 SG, at almost half the distance between the Moon and the Earth. Yet, the scientists were able to detect the asteroid only a day later. The flyby of asteroid 2021 UA1 may demonstrate the possibility that unexpected asteroids may approach the Sun.
Astronomer Tony Dunn detailed critical insights about this third closest flyby. He said the asteroid’s visit was astounding. It approached from behind the sun in a daytime sky. If the asteroid had entered the atmosphere, it might have burned up before making it to the ground. The asteroids which go undetected are a matter of extreme concern.
Hence, if asteroids that are much larger than 2021 UA1 go undetected, it can lead to more significant catastrophes. A recent study at the John Hopkins University suggests the possibility of nuking the approaching fatal asteroid with the help of nuclear weapons to reduce its impact. It also indicates that in some cases, the effect can be averted by 99.9% if the dangerous incoming asteroid was nuked two to six months prior.
The most valuable attempt to prevent an asteroid and Earth collision is to identify and deflect it. Undetected asteroids pose hazardous risks to the Earth.