Big Asteroid 2001 QQ142 to come as close as 5.5mn km to Earth

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In the vast expanse of space, NASA relies on sophisticated telescopes like NEOWISE, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Pans-STARRS1, and Catalina Sky Survey to monitor and study asteroids orbiting our cosmic neighborhood. Today, December 6, marks a particularly close approach of a massive celestial body known as Asteroid 2001 QQ142, illuminated by data collected through these telescopes. This asteroid Categorized as Apollo class asteroid. Comparable in size with the Golden Gate Bridge.

Asteroid 2001 QQ142: Proximity Details

NASA has classified Asteroid 2001 QQ142 as a Near-Earth space rock, projected to pass Earth at a distance of approximately 5.5 million kilometers. Racing through space at an astonishing speed of 23,975 kilometers per hour—surpassing the velocity of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)—this asteroid captures attention due to its colossal dimensions.

Belonging to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, a classification encompassing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s, Asteroid 2001 QQ142 draws its name from the renowned 1862 Apollo asteroid discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s. NASA JPL team classified Asteroid 2001 QQ142 as’potentially hazardous asteroid’.

Dimensions of the Giant Asteroid

In terms of size, Asteroid 2001 QQ142 is a monumental celestial body, stretching nearly 2,200 feet wide—a scale akin to a colossal bridge and surpassing the iconic Empire State Building in sheer magnitude. NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) designates this asteroid as a Potentially Hazardous Object due to its substantial size and the proximity of its approach, posing a potential threat to Earth with the potential for catastrophic impact.

Intriguingly, this is not the first time Asteroid 2001 QQ142 has ventured close to Earth. Its inaugural close encounter occurred on August 1, 1901, at a distance of 72 million kilometers. After today’s rendezvous, this celestial traveler will revisit Earth on January 18, 2029, at a slightly closer distance of 68 million kilometers.

Below are the 8 close approaches in upcoming decades.

DayDistance from Earth (in Km) Velocity (in Km/s)

Dec. 6, 2023
Dec. 17, 20454,528,6907.542
Dec. 5, 2062

Nov. 30, 2101
Dec. 13, 21232,064,023
Oct. 31, 2150

Dec. 31, 2155

Dec. 9, 2182


Significance of Asteroid Studies

While asteroids often traverse safely at a distance, their occasional threats cannot be ignored. These ancient space rocks have historically influenced Earth’s trajectory, impacting the course of history. Regular monitoring is crucial, as even near misses hold importance in understanding and mitigating potential future risks. The telescopic endeavors of NASA shed light on these cosmic wanderers, aiding in unraveling the mysteries of our celestial neighborhood.

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