NewsAsteroid 2008 OS7, up to 1575ft wide, narrowly missing Earth: collision must be only a matter of time

Asteroid 2008 OS7, up to 1575ft wide, narrowly missing Earth: collision must be only a matter of time

The asteroid will fly near Earth.
The asteroid will fly near Earth.
Images source: © Pixabay
3:58 PM EST, January 30, 2024

The 2008 OS7 asteroid will fly past Earth on February 2nd. Even though it's considered potentially dangerous, astronomers are emphasizing there's no reason for concern since the asteroid will miss Earth by approximately 1.74 million miles. Estimates suggest that the 2008 OS7 could measure anywhere between 690 to 1575 feet in diameter.

The substantial size of the 2008 OS7 separates it from many other celestial bodies that routinely approach our planet. These typically range from several feet to tens of feet in diameter.

Orbiting the sun every 2.6 years, the asteroid, due to fly past us this Friday, is part of the Apollo group. This group of celestial bodies intersects both our planet's orbit and those of Venus and Mercury. 2008 OS7 is classified as potentially hazardous, a label applied to any celestial bodies that come within 19.5 lunar distances of our planet and exceed 6.21 miles in diameter.

Is a collision only a matter of time?

We've frequently reported on asteroids like 2008 OS7. Media occasionally covers the close flybys of large asteroids. These instances have not presented a direct threat to our planet. However, many astronomers argue that the genuine concern surrounding asteroids isn't whether one collides with Earth but when it will happen.

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of the Astrophysical Research Center of Queen Mary University in London shares this view. He acknowledges that while finding large objects that could potentially threaten Earth is becoming somewhat more accessible, detecting smaller objects remains challenging. However, detection is only the first step. The real question, Fitzsimmons argues, is whether we will be "prepared to take action" when necessary.

According to Fitzsimmons, "with a 95-percent certainty, we can predict that in the next few centuries, a catastrophe" analogous to the one that resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs is unlikely. Nevertheless, that doesn't rule out the possibility of a collision involving smaller celestial bodies. An asteroid measuring anywhere from 328 to 984 feet could result in catastrophic damage if it hit Earth, and detecting such bodies is incredibly challenging.

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