- Recently NASA announced that a giant asteroid is expected to pass Earth (at a safe distance) on June 6.
- A Near-Earth Object (NEO), the asteroid is called 163348 (2002 NN4) and is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA).
What are Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), why are they studied?
- NEOs occasionally approach close to the Earth as they orbit the Sun, NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Study (CNEOS) determines the times and distances of these objects as and when their approach to the Earth is close.
- NASA defines NEOs as comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits which allows them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
- These objects are composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles.
- NEOs offer scientists clues about the chemical mixture from the planets formed.
What is 163348 (2002 NN4)?
- This asteroid is classified as a PHA, which means the asteroid has the potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.
- 2002 NN4 was discovered in July 2002 and is expected to approach the Earth on June 6.