4660 Nereus: Know all about Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid heading towards Earth in December- is there a need to panic?
T4660 Nereus has been classified as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid' (PHA). It will fly by the Earth at a distance of 3.9 million km, a distance 10 times greater than that between the Earth and the Moon.
4660 Nereus: An asteroid the size of Eiffel Tower is heading towards Earth in December, according to NASA. The space agency confirmed that there is no need to panic as its asteroid tracker says that the “potentially hazardous” rock will fly by the Earth on December 11.
According to NASA, the asteroid called 4660 Nereus will be 2.4m miles away from the Earth on December 11, which is a close pass but distant enough to not hit the planet.
Can the 4660 Nereus pose a threat to the Earth in the future?
T4660 Nereus has been classified as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid' (PHA). It is scheduled to carry out 12 close passes to the Earth in the coming decades. As per researchers, we will have to get used to its presence and that it is extremely unlikely for the asteroid to ever pose a threat to the Earth.
About T4660 Nereus asteroid
•The egg-shaped, Eiffel tower-sized asteroid will be 330 meters wide, almost triple the size of a football pitch.
•It is larger than 90 percent of all known asteroids but smaller in comparison to the big ones.
•The asteroid will fly by the Earth at a distance of 3.9 million kilometres, which is a distance 10 times greater than that between the Earth and the Moon. The distance between the Earth and the Moon is less than half a million kilometers.
•The asteroid orbits the sun every 664 days. Its orbit put its closer to the Earth-like other Apollo-class asteroids. It is expected to come close to the Earth again in March 2031.
•Its closest approach is predicted to be on February 14, 2060, when it will be just under 745,645 miles away.
T4660 Nereus: History
Nereus asteroid was spotted for the first time in 1982 by US astronomer Eleanor F. Helin. The asteroid was then classified as a member of the Apollo group of asteroids that are known for crossing the Earth's path as it orbits the Sun.
The asteroid orbits almost twice for every orbit of Earth and its close orbit makes it potentially accessible by spacecraft. NASA researchers had previously proposed missions to the asteroid. NASA had planned to send the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker) probe to the asteroid.
Japan was also planning to send the robotic spacecraft Hayabusa to Nereus. However, none of the plans materialised due to different reasons. The United Arab Emirates has now announced its plans to launch missions to explore asteroids in 2028. It would become the first Arab nation to do so.
Potentially Hazardous asteroid
NASA classifies asteroids as “potentially hazardous” when they are larger than 500ft in diameter and come within 4.65m miles of the Earth.
Nereus is not the first asteroid that will fly by the Earth so closely, as back in September 2021, an asteroid of the size of the Big Ben clock tower was set to crash through the Earth's orbit. It came within 1,804,450 miles of Earth but did not hit the planet.
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