Potentially dangerous asteroid will threaten the Earth in 200 years

This month, an asteroid the size of a stadium flew safely past Earth. It was recorded by NASA’s powerful radar system. 

Series of images showing asteroid 2008 OS7 flying past Earth on February 2, 2024. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Asteroid 2008 OS7 passed Earth on February 2, 2024, at a safe distance of 2.9 million kilometers. That is 7.5 times more than the distance to the Moon. Although there was no risk to our planet, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) used the Goldstone Solar System Radar (GSSR) to get an image of the asteroid during its flyby.

The new data pinpointed the asteroid’s size because other radar systems did not provide enough images before its close passage. Asteroid 2008 OS7 orbits the Sun every 2.6 years, crossing the orbit of Venus and Mars. It has been identified as “potentially dangerous,” but a collision with Earth is expected no earlier than 200 years from now, JPL notes.

Asteroid 2008 OS7 looks like a white dot on a starry background in this image from The Virtual Telescope Project in Ceccano, Italy, taken during a close pass on February 2, 2024. Image: Gianluca Masi

Initially, scientists in 2008 estimated asteroid 2008 OS7 as an object 200-500 meters wide. But according to new data from February 2, it was found that its size was significantly smaller – 150-200 meters. The observations also confirmed the asteroid’s unusually slow rotation – one rotation every 29.5 hours.

According to JPL, the DSS-14 antenna of the Goldstone Solar System Radar is the only fully controlled planetary radar system in the world. It is located in the California Mojave Desert, it is used to observe space debris, solar system bodies and asteroids such as 2008 OS7.

Earlier, we reported on the 4 most dangerous asteroids of 2024.

According to space.com

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