An asteroid heading to earth has raised some concerns about a possible impact on February 16 or 17 this year. However, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) the asteroid, named 2016 WF9, poses no threat to us.
“This pass will not bring it particularly close,” NASA said. “The trajectory of 2016 WF9 is well understood, and the object is not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.”
According to NASA, this asteroid is traveling from Jupiter to Mars on a path to Earth. Its closes approach to Earth will occur on February 25. During this time, it would be 32 million miles or over 51 million kilometers from our planet.
It is estimated to be as wide as 0.6 miles or 966 meters. Once it is done, it will head back to the outer portion of our solar system, safely. WF9 has raised interest among NASA scientists. According to them, this may have cometary origins. According to Deputy Principal Investigator James Bauer at JPL, this object “illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one.”
Earlier this month, NASA also said that an asteroid flew past Earth just a few days after it was discovered. No one really saw this asteroid, named 2017 BS32, when it became as close as 161,280 kilometers to Earth.
The asteroid flew past us on February 2, Thursday. Scientists estimate that the object is about 24 meters wide. It is one of the asteroids that are called Atens. Asteroids of this type have been considered as potentially dangerous since they are very close to Earth.
The scientists explain that they did not notice this asteroid earlier because smaller asteroids are actually hard to detect. Additionally, other factors can also affect its visibility. These include rain and cloud as well as the bright light from the moon.
Like the 2016 WF9, this asteroid also raised some concerns among people. In spite of this, this asteroid was proven to pose no danger to us. And other asteroids flying past our planet at a close distance is actually more common than one might believe.
“It raises a few eyebrows when we see a number of close approaching NEAs over such a short period of time,” said Slooh astronomer Paul Cox, Space states. “We’ll investigate how this could be.”
The next asteroid expected to approach close to Earth would be the 2016 WF9. This was spotted in November. It is around 0.4 kilometers and 0.9 kilometers wide. On February 25, scientists expect it to come as near as 51 kilometers from Earth.