Home / Science / No, the 2006 QV89 asteroid will not hit the Earth in September 2019 | Space

No, the 2006 QV89 asteroid will not hit the Earth in September 2019 | Space

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Diagram showing Earth orbits, inner planets and asteroid 2006 QV89.

Seen on this scale, seen from above the solar system, it seems that the orbits of the Earth and the 2006 asteroid QV89 intersect. However, the pass of this asteroid of September 9, 2019 should not be particularly tight. Image via NASA's Center for Near-Earth Objects.

Over the past month, many articles (for example here and here) have been published on a rock from the space that will pass closest to Earth on September 9, 2019. Some focus on the tiny chance that this asteroid could hit the Earth in September, but here we are to focus on the much greater chances of this asteroid will not be hit us. In fact, the 2006 QV89 asteroid is currently ranked by OTHER RISK by astronomers. He should not touch the Earth. Although the 2006 QV89 asteroid appears on a "list of objects at risk" of the European Space Agency, it is important to note that the asteroid has a Torino scale of 0, which indicates its no danger status. You can see for yourself on the table below, taken from ESA. Like many asteroids, the 2006 QV89 is on the "Risk" list, but ESA currently ranks it as a non-priority risk.

As of June 2019, calculations made by NASA / JPL with available data suggest that the space rock will not even have a particularly close approach to the Earth in September 2019.

According to NASA's Center for Near-Object Studies, 2006, the QV89 will likely be so far away from our planet that there is a 99.989% chance that space rock will miss Earth in September 2019.

ESA diagram showing various orbital parameters for 2006 QV89.

This graph from the European Space Agency – published in June 2019 – shows the distance traveled in September 2019 from the asteroid 2006 QV89 to 4,263,660 miles (6,861,695 km), about 17 times the distance of the moon. The object belongs to the "risk" category of astronomers, but does not appear in their "priority" list.

Many asteroids appear temporarily in a list of risks due to uncertainties in their orbits. These kinds of uncertainties usually occur when an object has recently been discovered by observatories and has only been observed a few nights after discovery, then becoming too weak to be observed. When an asteroid is observed again – and the asteroid-orbit modeling programs of astronomers recognize it as a previously detected asteroid – new incoming observations allow astronomers to refine their orbit. The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona discovered 2006 QV89 on August 29, 2006. At that time, its observation arc was very short (10 days). The Arecibo observatory made radar observations of this asteroid on September 6, 2006. It then lost sight of and has not been detected since 2006.

Yet, from their brief observations and their knowledge of asteroids in general, which has grown dramatically in recent decades, astronomers may estimate that 2006 QV89 is approximately 30 to 40 meters in diameter, or approximately 39, a football field. It is classified as an Apollo asteroid, which are asteroids crossing the Earth, of which about 20,000 are known in January 2019.

In writing at Science20, Robert Walker had a good explanation on the status of the 2006 QV89 asteroid. He wrote on June 7, 2019:

Brief summary of the panic: should be missing and is currently rated NO Hazard. Tiny, most likely for an asteroid of this size is "Splosh in Pacific". Many thousands of years ago probably before an asteroid of this type hits an urban area.

It's just a random asteroid, there are a lot of them in the table every year with dates that they could "hit", but they're categorized as safe, because they should all be missing. The press chooses from time to time one of these many asteroids. Each year, many asteroids are removed from the chart that included possible dates of impact that year. This is one of the many asteroids NO RISK currently in the chart.

Over the next century or two years, we can expect that one of these many asteroids will be affected, but if it is followed, we will have at least ten years' worth of Warning to evacuate any city. The most likely thing is that the next asteroid to hit hangs harmlessly in the ocean. Hitting a city is extremely unlikely and probably has to wait thousands of years for that. An impact close enough to a city to warn residents to monitor the shards of glass such as Chelyabinsk is more likely and could occur, but not as likely as a harmless stunt in the ocean .

This is an example of "sensationalist press that chose a random asteroid". NASA did not warn us, nor did ESA. It is expected that it is missing and it is currently classified as no risk.

In short … do not worry about the 2006 Aéroide QV89. That will not hit us.

So why not see him go? According to ESA, the 2006 QV89 asteroid will show a maximum brightness or magnitude of +21.9 in September 2019, which means that the spatial rock will appear extremely weak. It will be so weak that it will not even be visible with most telescopes, with the exception of some huge observatory type instruments.

Diagram of the trajectory of the spacecraft towards a small space rock orbiting a slightly larger stone.

NASA plans to try to divert a rock from the space of its way by September 2022. This diagram of the DART mission shows the impact on the moonlet of the asteroid Didymos. Post-impact observations made by terrestrial optical telescopes and the planetary radar would in turn measure the change in the moon's orbit on the parent body. Image via NASA / Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Astronomers and other scientists train at each near asteroid to better prepare for a realistic scenario of a dangerous approach to the future. In addition, NASA will practice deflecting an asteroid from its path. The double asteroid redirection test (DART mission) is a planned space probe that will demonstrate the effects of crashing an impact spacecraft in an asteroid moon for planetary defense purposes. It will be launched in June 2021 and will attempt to impact a moon (160 meters) in the binary asteroid Didymos. The intentional impact is expected to take place in September 2022. More information on DART.

Finally, it is likely that we will learn to deflect an incoming asteroid. At the present time, however, if scientists were to detect an incoming asteroid, the best defense we have is to determine the area of ​​impact as accurately as possible and then evacuate the area. An excellent exercise took place on November 13, 2015. A small object – which was later identified as a space debris – was detected with a trajectory that could intercept the Earth. A team of scientists was able to determine that it would enter the Earth's atmosphere over the ocean near Sri Lanka, and a "no fly" and "no fishing" area was created.

So there you have it. As we have said many times before and as it is still true, to date, no known dangerous asteroid presents an imminent risk of impact on the Earth. Could an asteroid hits the Earth? Of course. This is why astronomers remain vigilant.

In short, asteroid 2006 QV89 was unfairly considered a threat to the Earth in September 2019. In fact, it is one of the many asteroids on the list of astronomers' risks, but it is not one of the priority risks . It is classified as "safe".

Eddie Irizarry

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