On Monday, Earth will encounter an asteroid that will narrowly miss a collision with our planet by a cosmic hair of 7,500 miles. The asteroid called 2011 MD is roughly the size of a large house, 10 meters in diameter, and will fly into our atmosphere zipping by TV satellites.
The near miss encounter may have caused some concerns, but according to an interview with Skymania, Dr. Emily Baldwin commented on asteroid 2011 MD.
We are certain that it will miss us, but if it did enter the atmosphere, an asteroid this size would mostly burn up in a brilliant fireball, possibly scattering a few meteorites, said Dr. Baldwin, from Astronomy Now magazine.
Asteroid 2011 MD isn't the first close encounter Earth has witnessed. In 2008, a meteor named 2008 TC3 entered into the Earth's atmosphere and exploded over a desert in Sudan. Earlier this year, another asteroid, 2011 CQ1, made the second closest encounter with Earth at 3,400 miles but also posed no threat.
The latest asteroid 2011 MD would be ranked as the fifth closest encounter. Future asteroids like Apophis, is scheduled to miss Earth in 2029. A much larger asteroid called 2005 YU55, a quarter of a mile wide, is expected to be the largest space missile to be recorded that is skimming past Earth in November 2011.
We can continue to expect future close encounters with harmless asteroids, but that is not stopping scientists from being proactive in preventing Armageddon if an asteroid is to strike Earth. NASA has reported that future asteroid 1999 RQ36, over one third of a mile wide, is expected to collide with our planet in the year 2182. The encounter is considered a serious threat and has resulted in an $800 million NASA probe project called Osiris Rex.
Osiris Rex's mission is to launch and retrieve samples from the asteroid. The samples are then sent back to Earth by 2023 for further research and solutions on how to deflect the asteroid's trajectory away from Earth.