At a 3.58 million miles (5.77 million km) distance, asteroid PZ 39 remembers humankind of its frailty. This is the distance at which the huge rock will get close to Earth this weekend. It might seem too far to believe it matters, but NASA doesn’t consider it that way.
About this massive asteroid
PZ39 is presumably one kilometer wide. The measurements aren’t precise so that it could measure between 400 meters and one kilometer. No matter the difference, as any of the dimensions puts PZ39 in the dangerous size area. Any rock bigger than 400 meters can destroy an entire continent.
If the asteroid’s length is 1000 meters, if it would strike our planet, the impact would overcome the disaster of the most powerful nuclear device ever tested. It would impact it with the energy of over 60 megatons of TNT.
NASA is responsible for keeping Earth safe from repeating history. Sixty-six million years ago, back when dinosaurs ruled the world, a rock 10 kilometers wide made them extinct. It hit Earth in today’s Mexico, and the effects of the disaster are hidden in the Yucatan Peninsula. The impact itself and the disastrous repercussions wiped the life out of the planet.
How will NASA keep us safe?
NASA has two ways to prevent such an event. Either by derailing the asteroid or by destroying it first. The first option means that via spacecraft systems that designed to alter the rock’s orbit, the rock may be deflected so that Earth doesn’t stay in its way.
The second option is the NEO’s disruption via spacecraft systems designed to fragment it into pieces. The pieces are contained to miss Earth or burn up in the atmosphere.
The US is also to manage the consequences of Nearly Earth Objects’ impacts if prevention is not possible. And there will be consequences: earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and secondary effects far beyond the immediate impact area. But we are safe this time. PZ39 “killer” asteroid will keep its distance for now.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.