An asteroid, the 2021 GW4, just gave our planet and many satellites a close shave on 12th April. As it passed Earth without any hits or damages, the 4-metre asteroid was ten times nearer to Earth than the Moon.
The 2021 GW4
Scientists at NASA are always observing the rocks floating in space for various reasons. While they primarily look for big masses, they often discover small asteroids as they come near our planet. One such example is the 2021 GW4 asteroid.
The rock is of length 14 feet, almost the size of a car. Astronomers at Mt. Lemmon Survey discovered the asteroid first on 8th April, and was monitoring its math for some days. The asteroid brushed past Earth at about 13:00 hrs (GMT) on 12th April. The rock was only 26.2 Km away from our planet when nearest. As a quick comparison, the Moon is 384.4 Km away from Earth.
What are Asteroids?
Asteroids are just pieces of rocks that come from outer space. They are just like planets, revolving around the Sun. There is, in fact, a huge number of such rocks between Mars and Jupiter. Some of them even have quite awesome names!
As the asteroids come closer to Earth, the gravity pulls it, and they fall as shooting stars in the night sky. Most of the asteroids cannot survive the heat of the atmosphere, and burns down to ashes. Such would have been the fate of the 2021 GW4 too had it entered Earth’s atmosphere. However, there are some big masses that hit the planet once in a while, which are dangerous.
How are Asteroids Dangerous?
There are numerous facts and rumours of destruction that have been caused by incoming asteroids. Perhaps the most popular example is the extinction of dinosaurs. According to historians and scientists, much of the dinosaur species became extinct as a massive asteroid hit Earth in its prehistoric days. It caused massive changes in environment and weather, which led to the death of the reptilian species.
Another example is the Moon itself. It may seem strange, but the Moon did not form with the Earth. The satellite is nothing but a part of Earth that got detached from the planetary body when a huge asteroid hit it in its early days. A part of the planet got separated and began to revolve round it following the impact.
Hence, large asteroids can be dangerous, but not the tiny ones. The GW4 may have brushed the planet for good, but it could have done no harm even if its was otherwise.
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