2021 NY1: ‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroid’ Will Be Closely Flying by Earth Later This Month

Science

An asteroid named 2021 NY1 could come close to hitting the Earth this month. The asteroid has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It has also been classified as a near-Earth object owing to its predicted close pass by our planet. It is estimated to pass within 1,498,113km of the Earth sometime around September 22, 2021. The asteroid is estimated to fly by at a speed of 9.35kmps when it inches in towards Earth. It is a small- to average-size asteroid, estimated to be as big as a school bus.

2021 NY1 is categorised as an Apollo-class asteroid. Based on its brightness and the way it reflects light, scientists estimate it to be between 0.127km–0.284km in diameter.

2021 NY1 asteroid’s orbit almost crosses the orbit of the Earth. Its orbit is 0.01AU (1.5 million kilometres) from the Earth’s orbit when the paths are closest to each other. Space Reference, a website that collects data from NASA JPL and other databases, has even created an orbit simulation of the predicted event.

The asteroid completes one revolution around the Sun every 1,400 days or approximately 3.83 years when compared to the Earth’s revolution. While it orbits around the Sun, it comes as close to it as 0.99AU (over 145 million kilometres) and reaches as far as 3.90AU (over 580 million kilometres) from the Sun.

The flyby is supposed to be the closest approach between the asteroid and Earth in almost a century to come. The next close approach is predicted to happen on September 23, 2105, when 2021 NY1 will be at a distance of 2,650,398km from the Earth.

Observations regarding 2021 NY1’s orbit date back to June 12, 2021, as per Space Reference. The recent prediction is a result of these observations. The Minor Planet Center under the International Astronomical Union has recorded 44 observations that were used to determine the asteroid’s orbit. The orbit was last officially observed earlier this year on June 15.


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