Scientists across the globe keep track of asteroids, planets, meteoroids, comets and other celestial bodies that come near Earth. Talking about asteroids, it can be of great value and rich in minerals and metals but, the size of asteroids can vary between small to humongous which puts Earth at risk of damage. Although no apparent damage is predicted to happen, the asteroid 2018 DU has been reported to come close to Earth. In fact, scientists have disclosed that it will come within the radius of 175,000 miles from the Earth on Feb 25 at 18:22 UTC.
Scientists at Tenagra Observatories in Arizona captured a 120-seconds exposure image that discussed the apparent position of other celestial bodies and the 10-meter large asteroid 2018 DU which is expected to come close to the Earth. In fact, it will be closer than the Moon from Earth. The scientists intercepted the asteroid when undergoing Virtual Telescope Project where they discovered that the asteroid is around 10 meters wide and that it will sweep past the Earth at a close distance. Being in the small size of mere 10 meters, it won’t pose a danger to human species, however, there could be little damage to a region if it falls on the Earth. Michael Schwartz of Tenagra Observatories and Gianluca Masi of Virtual Telescope Project who captured the asteroid stated that these meteors usually don’t leave trails. On the contrary, stars do leave trails that help distinguish between the celestial bodies.
Asteroid 2018 DU is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO) which by definition is any celestial body which has an orbit close to the planet Earth. A solar system body whose closest approach to the Sun during perihelion is considered as NEO if its distance is less than 1.3 AU. The objects whose orbit crosses closest to the Earth is termed as a potentially hazardous object (PHO) if it is larger than 140 meters. According to the statistics, there are over 100 near-Earth comets (NEC), more than 17,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEA) and a plenty of meteoroids and other debris which can be tracked by telescopes and other equipment before it reaches Earth.
In the 1980s, scientists began to track and keep a record of the asteroids that might pose danger on Earth. Presently, space agencies in European Union, the United States are searching and tracking NEOs under the joint effort called Spaceguard. The American space agencies started monitoring NEO of 1 kilometer and above since 1998 which can destroy the planet if it strikes. In 2011, the Congress mandate the space agency to track NEA of more than 1km in size accounting for about 93% of the known NEAs. NASA asked the Planetary Defense Coordination Office to track the asteroids and NEOs 30 to 50 meters in size. As per the data available on Feb 5, 2018, researchers have tracked and monitor 96% of the estimated NEOs.
The Asteroid 2018 DU will pass through the Earth on Feb 25 at 18:22 UTC. It is the 17th sighting of an NEO passed through the Earth in 2018 alone. Asteroids are composed of rich and valuable metals worth trillions of dollars. Moreover, these solar system bodies have low surface gravity and an Earth-like orbit that makes it a point where the spacecraft can reach. Although both unmanned and manned missions were proposed back in the 1970s, there has been no manned mission on an asteroid. While there are three major spacecraft which have landed on the asteroids to collect data and more. A recent discovery revealed a closeby asteroid has metals worth over $5.4 trillion USD which makes it in challenging mission and if successful, the metals can be extracted.