Just like Earth, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) completes its trip around the Sun every 12 months. Images are captured by the survey telescope throughout its journey, which are then stitched together to form a sky-map, according to NASA. This sky-map shows the positions and the brightness of millions of celestial objects in space. With the help of this sky-map and other ground and space-based telescopes, NEOWISE also helps scientists keep an eye on asteroids which may potentially threaten to impact the Earth.
NASA has now issued an asteroid warning for a similar asteroid which is heading for Earth and could make its closest approach as soon as today.
Asteroid 2022 CX1 details
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has issued an alert against an asteroid named Asteroid 2022 CX1. It is expected to fly past Earth closely today, February 9, at a distance of 6.6 million kilometers. The asteroid is already on its way towards Earth, travelling at a staggering speed of 47471 kilometers per hour.
Compared to other asteroids that often make close approaches with Earth, Asteroid 2022 CX1 is relatively small with a width of 43 feet, making it as big as a house.
Although this asteroid is not expected to impact Earth any time soon, A slight deviation in the asteroid’s path due to interaction with the planet’s gravitational field could change its trajectory and send it tumbling towards Earth’s surface with catastrophic consequences.
Mapping the sky
As of now, NASA has stitched 18 sky maps together using the images captured by the NEOWISE, with 19th and 20th maps to be released around March 2023. With the help of these maps, NASA scientists have created a time-lapse of the sky, showing the changes in position of numerous celestial objects, spanning across the last decade.
This move will help in better understanding of our Universe and enable scientists to study the changes in positions and brightness of space objects in the last decade. This is called Time-Domain Astronomy.
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