Another space rock is hurtling towards the Earth and is expected to make its closest approach in the last week of this month. According to the Virtual Telescope, the asteroid (7335) 1989 JA will zoom past the Earth on May 27 at 7:56 p.m. (IST) and has been classified as a potentially hazardous one. However, Earthlings have no reason to fear as it will make its pass from a safe distance of about 4 million km, which is over ten times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Interestingly, the Virtual Telescope has managed to photograph the space rock days before it makes its closest approach to Earth. According to astronomer Gianluca Masi, this asteroid measures 1.8 kilometres across and was photographed when it was about 18.7 million kilometres from the Earth. As its name suggests, the asteroid was discovered in 1989 by astronomer Eleanor Helin from the California-based Palomar Observatory.
(Asteroid 7335 1989 JA pointed with an arrow; Image: Twitter/@VirtualTelescop)
Earth to host another asteroid on May 16
Before the 1989 JA, asteroid 2008 TZ3 will make its closest approach on May 16 at 2:48 a.m. (IST). The asteroid is estimated to be around 490 metres wide, which is even greater than New York’s Empire State Building’s height. Just like the 1989 JA, the 2009 TZ3 is also classified as ‘potentially hazardous’ but will pass from a safe distance at a staggering speed of 28,968 kilometres per hour. An asteroid is deemed hazardous when it measures over 140 metres in diameter and comes close to roughly 74,80,000 km from Earth, according to the US space agency NASA.
Notably, this isn’t the first time this particular asteroid will fly past Earth. The enormous space rock passed by the planet in May 2020 at a distance of around 2.75 million kilometres. It isn’t projected to come back that close to Earth again until May 2163.