An asteroid the size of a refrigerator came to be three thousand kilometers from Earth without scientists knowing.
Asteroid 2021 UA1 is the third closest asteroid to our planet. On Sunday it passed over Antarctica at an altitude higher than that of the International Space Station, but lower than that of communication satellites orbiting the Earth.
The celestial object had a diameter of only two meters, which means that if it had come close to our planet, it would probably have burned up in our atmosphere.
“The reason the asteroid’s passing near the planet took us by surprise was that it was behind the Sun, and was always clouded by daylight, making it impossible to discover it before its closest approach,” tweeted Tony. Dunn, the astronomer who runs the Orbitsimulator website.
There are only two asteroids that have come closest in Earth’s history: One was asteroid 2020 QG, which passed just 1,945 kilometers above the southern Indian Ocean, but was also small enough not to pose a threat. for Earth, and asteroid 2020 VT4, which flew a few hundred kilometers away on Friday the 13th.
Although these asteroids are too small to affect Earth, many scientists are preparing for the possibility that a larger one will cause considerable damage to the planet.
In May, NASA ran a simulation over the course of a week to prepare for such an eventuality, but concluded that there is no technology on Earth that can prevent it from happening.
The only answer would be to evacuate the area before the asteroid struck, however the impact zone was located across much of North Africa and Europe.
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Chinese researchers have considered sending more than 20 rockets that could stop a giant asteroid.
The China National Center for Space Sciences found in simulations that if 23 Long March 5 rockets, weighing 900 tons when they leave the planet, simultaneously hit an asteroid, they could deviate it from its original trajectory by almost nine thousand kilometers, which is equivalent to 1 , 4 times the radius of the Earth.