Asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) has been classified as ‘potentially dangerous’, but will in fact be harmless. If we look at the cosmic dimensions, the asteroid will pass “close” to the Earth, but for us mere mortals it will be astronomically far away. In general, the technical terms with which astronomers communicate in real life the arrival of such cosmic objects may seem unnecessarily alarming. Let’s try to clarify. Nobody, not even NASA, expects 7482 to hit Earth. Simply “it is the closest that will come in the next two centuries,” according to reports Cnnreporting some projections of the American Space Agency. The size of this asteroid is estimated to be double theEmpire State Buildingwith a diameter of one kilometer.
It will reach the closest point to our planet on January 18. Just to be clear: the distance will be over two million kilometers. This is enough to classify it as PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroid), ie “potentially dangerous”; this is because with its size – and given the fact that it crosses the Earth’s orbit -, if it fell on us it would not be a good day for us. This does not mean that it can actually happen, in fact it is rather unlikely.
The asteroid is not even a stranger. It is also known as “1994 PC1” because it was discovered by astronomer Robert McNaught on 9 August 1994 at the Siding Spring Observatorylocated in Coonabarabran in Australia. Institutes like the Center of Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) of NASA are those who deal with classifying these cosmic objects. In America there is a real one Planetary Defense Coordination Officewhich should be alerted if we seriously find an asteroid or a comet on a collision course against us. That’s not the case.
Cover photo: BENG-ART | Asteroid, archive image.