NASA Warns Two Asteroids OR Comets to Pass by Earth…But They’re Not Sure Which
NASA has revealed that TWO celestial objects are approaching Earth and are currently zooming through the solar system.
An asteroid and potentially a comet are hurtling towards Earth
Two objects are currently hurtling towards Earth’s orbit and will come close to Earth in January and February.
One of the bodies is a comet known as C/2016 U1 NEOWISE, which was first discovered by Nasa’s NEOWISE mission – the asteroid hunting project – in October last year, is set to reach its closest point on January 14.
According to Nasa’s Paul Chodas, the comet ”has a good chance of becoming visible through a good pair of binoculars, although we can’t be sure because a comet’s brightness is notoriously unpredictable.”
There is a bit of confusion surrounding the other object however, with experts unsure as to whether it is a comet or an asteroid.
The object in question has been dubbed 2016 WF9 is not followed by a trail of icy debris, like a comet usually does, but it does seem to have the reflective body structure of a comet.
As it approaches, scientists will be studying it to confirm what type of celestial body it is.
Nasa’s Deputy Principal Investigator James Bauer, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “2016 WF9 could have cometary origins.
“This object illustrates that the boundary between asteroids and comets is a blurry one; perhaps over time this object has lost the majority of the volatiles that linger on or just under its surface.”
It is due to reach its closest point to Earth on February 25 when it will be just 32 million miles away – while that seems a safe distance, in galactic terms it is not far at all.
While this time around it does not pose any danger, experts worry that when it returns, as it orbits Jupiter and the Sun, it could be significantly closer.