Scientists from NASA reported last week that on November 8, the 2005 YU55 asteroid will pass Earth within a frightening distance of 201,700 miles. Sorry kids, we will still have to do our homework since it won’t hit us. Close call though, by astronomer standards! Last time when a big space rock came close to us was in 1976, and the next time will be in 2028, according to NASA.
“What is unique about this asteroid flyby is that we are aware of it well in advance” says Mr. Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, physics, and aerospace engineering at Purdue University. This time, astronomers will have the advantage of being able to observe and study the asteroid without launching a space mission.
Historically, asteroids and comets came in contact with our planet many times, altering the course of life. What we can do in the future, if anything, to prevent such a catastrophe is a problem that scientists from all over the world are trying to solve. Is it going to be one of the Hollywood sci-fi movies where astronauts are blowing up the asteroids or trying to change the trajectory of the rocks? In the meantime, on November the 8th, we will be able to see the 2005 YU55 with a decent telescope (having an aperture of 15 centimeters or larger) and realize how fragile our existence can be.