Tech UPTechnologyAn asteroid will pass between the Earth and the...

An asteroid will pass between the Earth and the Moon in 2082

The Gran Telescopio de Canarias observed the asteroid 2019 DS1 on February 28, 2019 within the framework of a collaboration program between the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) in which the researchers of the group participate. Solar System of the IAC. When the ‘Catalina Sky Survey’ search program detected the asteroid, it was approximately 1 million kilometers from Earth.

Experts believe that the massive asteroid about 20-40 meters in diameter will pass between Earth and the Moon in 2082, close enough to the planet to cause “significant risk.” If it impacted on our planet, it would cause a catastrophe like the one that occurred on June 30, 1908 in Siberia, known as the Tunguska event. This fireball, which arose after the collision of a fragment of Comet Encke, did not reach the surface, so no crater was produced.

Now, the analysis of the Solar System group of the IAC in order to track the movement of asteroid 2019 DS1, show that the asteroid will pass 165,000 kilometers from Earth within 63 years.

So far, astronomers have not been able to determine where the asteroid will fall, but they claim that where it falls would cause a catastrophe similar to that of 1908 when space matter landed at Tunguska in Russia’s central Siberian plains.

Back then, at 07.17 a.m. local time on June 30, the 37-meter-diameter object created an explosion similar to that of a nuclear bomb and was even detected by earthquake radars located in the United Kingdom. It set fire to 2,150 square kilometers of forest , eighty million trees lying on both sides of the epicenter, knocked down in a radial pattern to the ground. For several days, the nights in Russia and even the rest of Europe were so bright that residents were able to read without the need for candles or lamps.

The light was described as “as bright as the sun”, and even the train conductor on the Trans-Siberian railway stopped for fear that the convoy would capsize or wind up off the track.

If it had landed in an inhabited area, the asteroid would have caused a massacre and wiped out a population equivalent to that of a small country.

Situation of the asteroid 2019 DS1

The asteroid is currently 50 million kilometers away, and the coordinator of the area of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Javier Licandro, affirms that they will be able to say, long before February 26, 2082, where it will land approximately.

“The early determination of a possible impact allows us to take the necessary measures to avoid it or, at least, to minimize its effects,” says Julia de León, principal investigator of the Solar System group at the IAC. “Our observations through a telescope and space missions like Hera – organized by the European Space Agency and in which IAC researchers participate – are essential to protect our planet from an asteroid landing on it.”

While the possibility of a giant asteroid hitting Earth is highly unlikely , it has happened before – the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs – and it could happen again. For this reason, NASA and the Federal Emergency Control Agency (FEMA) published an 18-page document that details the steps that space agencies plan to take over the next 10 years, both to prevent possible asteroid attacks and to prepare ourselves in the event that one finally hit the planet.

We have spoken with the Valencian astronomer Amadeo Aznar from the APT Observatory Group to resolve some relevant questions about this announcement.


How do you track such an asteroid?


“Collaborative work is fundamental in this type of analysis. In the first place, for the detection of these dangerous objects, large surveys give the voice of alerting as soon as they are detected. Next, an army of observatories, including some amateur ones , They carry out astrometric measurements that determine the position of the asteroid.The Minor Planet Center , which depends on the International Astronomical Union, centralizes the measurements, confirms the detection and performs the calculation of orbits.


Once the orbit is known, it is essential to do a long-term follow-up , since the orbits can vary due to gravitational pulls of the planets. That is, a near-Earth asteroid that, a priori , poses no danger to our planet, could modify its orbit in the long term and become a potentially dangerous asteroid . On the other hand, international collaboration between institutions is also important. The same asteroid can be observed in favorable conditions for some countries and less favorable for others.


In the case of NEA 2019 DS1, the Solar System Group of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias has had to integrate numerous images to be able to identify the asteroid, since it is an object the size of two buses located 50 million kilometers away. With these characteristics, the object currently has a visual magnitude of 25.3 , extremely dark . “





Should we increase surveillance for near-Earth asteroids?

“Without a doubt. Unlike other catastrophes that we can suffer on our planet , the impact of an asteroid may occur imminently , although it is true that 90% of asteroids with the possibility of causing a catastrophe on a planetary level already are discovered.

Smaller asteroids are being detected each time , however, they are detected with little time to take measures to avoid the possible impact. In this sense, the United States wins the game over Europe, since they manage the main dangerous asteroid detection programs. Despite this, in Europe we have some of the best telescopes in the world for this type of work and world-class scientists. “

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