Asteroid bigger than Burj Khalifa flies over UAE

The space rock will not come this close to Earth for the next 200 years

An asteroid larger than Burj Khalifa safely passed by Earth last night and in the early hours of Wednesday.

Known as asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1, the space rock measures 1.05 kilometres across, while the world’s tallest building in Dubai stands at 0.83km.

It flew past the planet from a distance of 1.9 million km, which is five times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

It flew over the UAE at a speed of about 76,192kph.

Astrophotographers live-streamed footage of the space rock’s journey.

Roy Cooper / The National

The space rock will not come this close to Earth for the next 200 years.

Asteroids are rocky leftovers from the formation of the early system. More than 1.1 million have been found but many remain undiscovered.

Scottish-Australian astronomer Robert McNaught discovered this one in 1994.

An astrophotographer in Abu Dhabi had been tracking its journey.

Aldrin Gabuya from the Al Sadeem Observatory captured footage of the space rock on January 16, as it approached Earth.

“Unlike the planet-killer comet in the Don't Look Up movie, asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) will safely zoom past us,” the observatory tweeted.

“Not too close to collide with our planet, but not too far to be observed with a small scope.”

Astronomers around the world regularly track asteroids to ensure none of them are a threat to the Earth.

To test Earth’s defences against any threats from space rocks, Nasa launched a spacecraft last year that would intentionally crash into an asteroid to see if it could be deflected off course.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) mission will involve Didymos and Dimorphos, a binary asteroid system about 11 million km from Earth.

Dimorphos will be struck by the spacecraft between September and October, with the aim of changing its path.

Last year Nasa launched its Lucy spacecraft, which will visit eight asteroids over 12 years to study the evolution of the solar system.

It will fly by one Main Belt asteroid and seven Trojan asteroids. These are leftover parts of planets that are travelling in an orbit before and behind Jupiter.

The UAE also announced plans last year to launch a mission to the Main Asteroid Belt, and a Venus fly-by.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 8:04 AM
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