Asteroid 4660 Nereus will approach our planet next week. It is egg-shaped, about 330 meters long, which means it is a bit larger than the Eiffel Tower. A cosmic object, on average, is close to Earth once every decade. This time, however, it will be extremely close.
Asteroid 4660 Nereus is egg-shaped and about 330 meters long, which is 30 meters more than the Eiffel Tower. On December 11, i.e. when it enters Earth orbit, the object will be speeding at a speed of 23.7 thousand. kilometers per hour.
However, astronomers do not predict an asteroid’s collision with Earth. However, they emphasize that the object has not been so close to our planet in 20 years. It will be approximately 3.86 million kilometers away, which is only 10 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon. On a cosmic scale, it’s like a stone’s throw.
4660 Nereus near Earth
The asteroid owes its name to Nereus – the Greek god of the sea, who was the son of Gaia (who, in turn, was the personification of the Earth).
NASA defines any space object that is 193 million kilometers from our planet as a “near-earth object”. Near-Earth object, NEO), and any fast moving about 7.5 million kilometers from Earth as “potentially dangerous”. After marking these objects, astronomers carefully monitor them and look for any deviations from the predicted trajectory that could lead to their possible collision with Earth.
A tempting research object
First discovered in 1982, the asteroid Nereus, which orbits the Sun for 1.82 years, approaches the Earth almost every 10 years. Because it visits our region of the solar system so often, NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA once considered sampling it with the Hayabusa space probe. Eventually, a different asteroid was chosen (25143 Itokawa).
NASA predicts that Nereus will once again approach Earth on March 2, 2031 and in November 2050. An even closer meeting is to take place on February 14, 2060 – then the asteroid will be at a distance of about 1.2 million km from Earth.
Scientists say Nereus is also a tempting subject to study. According to the Asterank database, which monitors more than 600,000 asteroids, this “potentially dangerous object” has massive deposits of nickel, iron and cobalt worth $ 4.71 billion in total.
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