Asteroids that pass Earth at close proximity present a potential threat of collision with Earth. In fact, there have been several close calls with asteroids recently. In February, a 2 feet wide rock broke into pieces about 33 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. On July 6, a meteor crashed, bounced off a roof, and hit a woman in the chest who was sipping coffee on her terrace in the village of Alsace in Eastern France. Now, another meteor and its impact crater was reportedly spotted by a dog walker on Portmarnock Beach in Ireland.
While none of these asteroids were big enough to cause large damage, these close calls highlight the importance of discovering, tracking, and studying asteroids, even those found in the asteroid belt. Through its advanced instruments, NASA has now shed light on an asteroid that is expected to make its closest approach to Earth today.
Asteroid 2023 RL6
NASA keeps an eye on asteroids, comets, and other Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) for potential close approaches that could threaten Earth. The space agency has issued a warning against an asteroid that will come extremely close to Earth today, September 14. As per the details, the asteroid, given the designation Asteroid 2023 RL6, will pass Earth at a distance of approximately 3.2 million kilometers.
While this asteroid is not a planet killer, it is still huge, with an estimated width between 72 feet and 160 feet, which makes it out to be as big as an aircraft! It is also bigger than the 59-foot Chelyabinsk asteroid that exploded over the Russian city in 2013 and caused some damage.
Not only will the asteroid pass Earth closely, but it is also hurtling towards us at blistering speed. NASA has revealed that Asteroid 2023 RL6 is approaching Earth at a breakneck speed of 32994 kilometers per hour.
This space rock belongs to the Amor group of Near-Earth Asteroids which are Earth-approaching near-Earth asteroids with orbits exterior to Earth but interior to Mars’, named after asteroid 1221 Amor, which was discovered by Belgian astronomer E. Delporte in 1932.
Shockingly, this will be Asteroid 2023 RL6’s first-ever close approach to Earth in history, although it has passed the planet before, albeit at a much farther distance on June 10, 1968. As per NASA’s Small-Body Database Lookup, it is not expected to make any further close approach in the near future.