Colossal, Potentially Hazardous Asteroid to Pass by Earth This Weekend

CC0 / / Asteroid
Asteroid  - Sputnik International
A giant asteroid - dubbed 2006 QQ23 - is expected to closely approach Earth on Saturday around 3:23 a.m. EDT.

The approaching asteroid has a diameter of 569 meters - more than three times the height of the tallest statue in the world, the Statue of Unity in India - and is expected to pass by Earth at a speed of 26,740 kilometers per hour.

The space rock will have a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 7.4 million kilometers from Earth, which is around 0.049 astronomical units. The MOID is a measure in astronomy used to determine risks of collision between astronomical objects and is defined as the distance between the closest points of the osculating orbits of two objects.  

According to NASA, “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid's potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.” 

All asteroids with MOIDs of 0.05 astronomical units or fewer and diameters exceeding 130 meters are considered PHAs. Thus, Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is technically considered a PHA, although it is not expected to pose any threat to Earth.

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is classified as an Aten asteroid, which means its path occasionally intersects with the Earth’s path as the two orbit the sun. 

The asteroid was first observed by CNEOS on August 21, 2006, and the last time it flew close to Earth, at a distance of 0.40781 astronomical units, was on January 17, 2017. The asteroid is expected to make another pass on February 15, 2022, when it will be about 0.40769 astronomical units from Earth.

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