1998 OR2, the ‘potentially dangerous’ ASTEROID that just passed close to Earth

This Wednesday, Earth was a privileged witness to the journey of a giant asteroid.
The celestial body, about 2 kilometers wide, passed at a distance that astronomers define as ‘approach’.

1998 OR2, the ‘potentially dangerous’ ASTEROID that just passed close to Earth.
The asteroid, named 1998 OR2, however, passed about 6.3 million km from our planet. That is more than 16 times the distance that separates us from the Moon.
But despite the fact that the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) warned that the asteroid would not pose any risk to Earth, astronomers classified it as ‘potentially dangerous’.
Why is it considered dangerous if it went that far?
The 1998 asteroid OR2 passed 16 times as far from the Moon to Earth.

The importance of tracking

NASA's answer to the previous question does not define so much the current characteristics of the asteroid as what it can potentially become in the future.
‘Asteroid 1998 is categorized as 'potentially dangerous' because, over the course of a millennium, any slight variation in its orbit can create more danger to Earth than it now represents,’ they explained in a statement.
Because of this, it is important to astronomers to track the asteroid during its approach to Earth.
‘Using telescopes and radars, observing the changes to the asteroid allows us to better assess its long-term danger,’ the statement continued.
According to NASA, almost all near-Earth asteroids of a similar or greater size have already been discovered, tracked, and cataloged.

Future danger

The asteroid 1998 OR2 was discovered in 1998 and astronomers have been tracking it ever since.
‘As a result, we have evaluated its trajectory very precisely and we can safely say that this asteroid has no chance of impact for the next 200 years,’ says NASA.
According to the space agency, the next approach will occur in 2079 and will make it much closer: about 4 times the distance from Earth to the Moon.
Astronomers took advantage of the 1998 OR2 approach to observe it in more detail.
Observing large asteroids is easier than observing small asteroids because they reflect more light and can be better detected by a telescope.
According to NASA, almost all near-Earth asteroids of a similar size or larger have already been discovered, tracked, and cataloged.
‘It is extremely unlikely that one of these large asteroids could impact Earth in the next century, but efforts continue to discover asteroids that may pose future danger,’ says NASA.
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