Is there anything more awe-inspiring than outer space? Is there anything more terrifying than the thought of an asteroid hurtling toward space, destined to collide with our planet? Reports have been cropping up over the news in recent weeks about the asteroid named 2002 AJ129. Media reports have been, perhaps haphazardly, reporting on the asteroid in a sensational manner by implying that it could fly close enough to the Earth to be ‘potentially hazardous’ on February 4th. The subtle insinuation within these reports is that people need to panic or at least get their anxiety up. As you are about to learn, NASA believes that this is the farthest thing from the truth.
NASA has made it their business to track potentially hazardous space materials that could come near our planet. While it is true that the 2002 AJ129 will be coming near Earth, the distance between earth and the asteroid is 10x that of the distance between the moon and the Earth. This distance, put more simply, is 2.6 millions of separation. NASA analysts have put the risk of collision with the building-sized asteroid at 0%. There is no reason to worry and no reason to be concerned about the potential collision.
Paul Chodas manages the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (NEOS) and he went on the record to give some details to potentially interested parties. Chodas pointed out in an interview that NASA has specifically been tracking AJ129 for the past 14 years and that they ‘know its orbit very accurately’. Chodas went on to explain that there was a 0% chance of 2002 AJ129 colliding with Earth on February 4th or at any time within the next 100 years. That last thought may be concerning for future generations, but for right here an right now — there is no cause for concern.
Chodas was also quick to point out that asteroids of this size are common to fly near Earth. Just this past week, January 18th, 2018 BD came within 21,500 miles of our planet. This asteroid was about the size of a car and could still do considerable damage had it collided with our planet. The Friday before we had seen Asteroid 2018 BX fly close to the Earth as well, zipping by from about 170,000 miles away. We’re looking at a relatively routine event at least in a cosmic sense. We can even go back to last September when Asteroid Florence, which was 2.7 miles wide, flew within 4.4 million miles of the planet.