An asteroid is expected to show up in Earth‘s neighborhood today, September 29th, the American space agency NASA has announced. The space rock, called 2020 PM7, is estimated to be around 200 meters (650 feet) in diameter, which is almost as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The agency’s Near-Earth Object (NEOs) website has also revealed information on the asteroid: 2020 PM7 is believed to travel at around 8.32 km/s (18,611 mph), at a distance of approximately 0.01920 au, or Astronomical Units (1,784,751 miles) from our planet.
NASA said in a statement with regards to this kind of space rocks: “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.”
Why Such Asteroid Events are Important
According to NASA, the scientific interest in comets and asteroids is because of their status as the relatively unchanged leftover debris from the Solar System formation process, which took place some 4.6 billion years ago, as per scientists.
“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets, and the leftover bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today,” NASA explained in a statement. “Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces leftover from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.”
As the ancient debris building blocks of the Solar System formation process, comets and asteroids provide us with information regarding the chemical combinations from which the planets took shape around 4.6 billion years ago.
“If we wish to know the composition of the primordial mixture from which the planets formed, then we must determine the chemical constituents of the leftover debris from this formation process – the comets and asteroids,” NASA added.
This is why such asteroid skims past Earth are important to researchers, as they have the chance to analyze the rocks and find more information about the Solar System.