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Asteroid news: NASA runs yearly drills for planetary defense in case of possible space rock collisions
Asteroid traveling 9.78 kilometers per second to pass by Earth this weekend
Asteroids pass by our planet almost regularly, giving agencies like NASA a chance to observe them. This weekend, an asteroid traveling at a speed of 9.78 kilometers per second is set to pass by Earth.
The asteroid is formally referred to as 2012 RM15 and is currently hurtling through space at a speed of 9.78 kilometers per second or 21, 877 kilometers per hour. As its name implies, RM15 was first spotted back in 2012 and it is now making its way towards the planet. The asteroid is expected to arrive on Saturday, September 12. Classified as a Near-Earth Object, RM15 measures between 33 meters to 75 meters in diameter, equivalent to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 aircraft.
By Saturday, RM15 will pass by Earth and it will pose no threat. It will only get as close as 0.01872 astronomical units or 1,740,132 miles. This is still extremely far on our terms, but it is close enough for astronomers and space agencies to notice and observe.
Even if the asteroids that pass by regularly pose no threat, agencies are still actively monitoring the skies for potential collisions, especially from massive asteroids that could cause damage on a global scale if it ever crashed onto Earth. Fortunately, NASA has already started preparing planetary defense measures in case asteroids would come crashing into the planet.
Meanwhile, NASA and the ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted galaxies in the midst of a collision. The event is described as Stephan’s Quintet also known as the Hickson Compact Group 92. While the name would refer to five galaxies, it is actually because several studies seem to find that the top-left, NGC 7320, looks a lot closer to Earth than the rest of the galaxies in the photo.
Within the quintets are two galaxies, known as NGC 7318A and 7318B are colliding towards each other due to their respective gravitational pulls.
“A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars, to aging, red stars,” said NASA.
The galaxies are surrounded by pink hydrogen clouds, and young stars are born within these clouds.