NASA Warns of Two Large Object Hurling Towards Earth
Two massive objects are hurling through space towards Earth, NASA said. The American Space Agency.
One of the two large objects is a comet. The other one has left the experts baffled even though it is unlikely to be the rouge planet that wipes out Earth in October. The object is called the “2016 WF9”, and was detected by NEOWISE or the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, which is NASA’s comet and asteroid hunting satellite.
The former comet is said to make a flyby of the earth in a week whereas the more mysterious space rock will not be making any appearance till February.
Something Between An Asteroid and a Comet
The 2016 WF9 is roughly 0.3 to 0.6 miles (0.5 to 1 kilometers) across and is in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. When it is the farthest from the sun, it comes close to Jupiter’s orbit. Over the course of 4.9 earth years, it travels inwards, towards the sun, passing through the asteroid belt and towards Mars. After crossing Mars, it comes close to the Earth’s orbit, swings around it and again goes back towards the outer solar system. It circumnavigates the sun while it travels in this path.
NASA is not sure whether it is a comet or an asteroid. Both these rocks where formed around 4.5 billion years ago, right when the solar system was forming. Comets are composed mostly of ice and dust. Therefore, they leave the trail as they move.
Asteroid have more metals in their composition. They were generally formed much closer to the sun, where ice cannot remain frozen. On 25 February, 2017, WF9 will approach Earth’s orbit at a distance of nearly 32 million miles (51 million kilometers) from our home planet.
NASA said that the object is “not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future”.