Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids pushed into orbits by the gravitational attraction of surrounding planets, allowing them to pass close to Earth. Most of the NEOs are asteroids, while a few are comets. The composition might vary greatly depending on where they came from in the solar system. These asteroids are remnants from our solar system's early creation 4.6 billion years ago. Lately, NASA has spotted an aeroplane-sized asteroid speeding towards Earth at lightning speed.
Catalina Sky Survey found asteroid 2023 TO15
This massive asteroid 2023 TO15 is a near-Earth object belonging to the Apollo group of asteroids, which are Earth-crossing rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth's. This giant asteroid was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on October 15, 2023, with an estimated diameter of about 46 meters. According to the space agency, the asteroid 2023 TO15 made its closest approach to Earth today, passing by at approximately 3,610,000 miles.
However, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that there is no need to be concerned about asteroid 2023 TO15. Despite being a near-Earth object, it poses no risk to Earth. It's too small to be considered a potentially dangerous object. In recorded history, this was the asteroid's first and only near approach to Earth.
Asteroid 2023 TO15, following approach, will be 61 million kilometres away on February 8, 2027. NASA and other space organisations are continually watching such objects. They have plans in place to prevent or reduce any potential impacts.
Is Earth truly struck by asteroids?
Asteroids indeed collide with Earth and can impact climate and human life. While most asteroids more significant than one kilometre in size have been identified, and their orbits are confirmed not to collide with Earth, smaller asteroids are less well-tracked. Every year, about 30 minor asteroids the size of a few metres collide with Earth. An asteroid impacting Earth might have devastating and long-term consequences for the environment and life.
The asteroid collision could release massive energy in a shock waveform, and the magnitude would be determined by the asteroid's mass, speed, entry angle, and topography. Fires, heat radiation, acid rain, tsunamis, and massive craters could be caused by the shock wave. The impact of dust and debris could cause climate change and extinction events.