If you’ve been scrolling through Netflix recently, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen Don’t Look Up. On its face, it looks like a movie about a giant comet hurtling toward Earth (though it’s really about the looming climate crisis).
But in real life, there’s a 3,400-foot-wide asteroid doing a flyby in late January, and though it won’t even be a near-miss (it’ll be about a million miles away), it’s going to be moving fast at about 12 miles per second. The same asteroid, known as 7482, shows up from time to time, but it won’t be this close again for another 200 years or so. On January 17, 1933, the asteroid was about 700,000 miles away.
The asteroid is about three times as tall as the Empire State Building, and although it’s extremely far away, NASA classifies it as “potentially hazardous.” That’s because its orbit crosses ours, making a collision more likely.
So why isn’t NASA worried about Earth being on an eventual collision course with 7482? It’s all about math. There are around 25,000 near-Earth asteroids that would be devastating in the event of a crash.
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Don’t worry, though: The space agency is working on the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, which will collide with a 525-foot-wide space body (a moonlet, to be specific) called Dimorphos at about 15,000 miles per hour in September of this year. DART will give scientists a good idea on whether it’s possible to divert an asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth in the future.
What Do You Think?
First, I’d love to hear whether you watched Don’t Look Up (and what you thought of it). Then, share your thoughts on 7482 and the 25,000 near-Earth asteroids – are you concerned that one of them will hit Earth sooner or later? Share your thoughts on these deep space questions on my Twitter feed or on my Facebook page to join the conversation!