Asteroids occupy what would be considered the Solar System’s natural landfill. Most asteroids are tucked neatly away in an asteroid belt that sits in between Mars and Jupiter. They range in size anywhere from a grain of sand up to something about a third of the size of our moon. Some asteroids are dustier, less dense, and lighter in color while others are forebodingly dark, more dense, and composed of nickel and iron.
There tends to be a lot of random motion amongst the asteroids as they orbit in unison around the sun. There’s a lot of bumping and grinding going on causing them to break into smaller pieces of debris. The combined gravitational force of the asteroid belt keeps things tidy most of the time. But once in great while Jupiter’s gravitational field stirs things around and will toss an asteroid out of the great belt causing it to wander across our Solar System seeking a new orbit.
This is where things get dicey. Fate has it that most of these wandering asteroids are very dark and are often spotted later rather than sooner by astronomers. Size really matters here as we witnessed with the recent asteroid that came down in Siberia. That particular asteroid wasn’t that large and went undetected by the astronomical community. Luckily it fell into a fairly remote area. By the time it was noticed it was too late, some building’s windows were shattered, a handful of people were injured, and the rest of them screamed and pooped in their pants.
This particular asteroid, known to astronomers as 2014 HQ124, was spotted back in late April. They’re just now telling us about it. Thanks. Fortunately for us on Earth this one is passing by at a safe distance of 3 lunar distances, that’s about 770,000 miles as the UFO flies. What’s is really worrisome about all these rogue asteroids is that are being spotted more frequently. On the other hand it might be our improved telescopes, especially the robotic telescopes that don’t sleep and continuously scan the skies.
This one asteroid has grabbed a lot of attention since it very dark and metallic. It is 10 to 20 times the size of the asteroid that recently came to Earth in Siberia. If this particular asteroid were aimed toward Earth – even at a glancing blow it would be cataclysmic and could possibly create a toilet paper shortage for the survivors because there would be a lot of people pooping in their pants. Let’s just hope that we have many more near misses in the future.
“A newfound asteroid will safely pass Earth on June 8 from a distance of about 777,000 miles (1.25 million kilometers), more than three times farther away than our moon.” via Asteroid Discovered by NASA to Pass Earth Safely – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.