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The Earth will be approached by a massive asteroid next month.

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  • Tip Bones

A gigantic 430ft asteroid is poised to hurtle towards Earth's orbital field this week, according to NASA's space debris register, with the giant rock making a 'near approach' to our planet.


The massive space rock, which is twice the size of Big Ben and somewhat larger than an American football stadium, was found on November 28, 1994, at Palomar Observatory by American astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker, and has since been dubbed 1994 WR12.


The JPL Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) classified it as an 'Earth Impact Risk' until 2016, although it has now been reduced based on additional observations.


Astronomers believe that WR12 would cause an explosion comparable to over 77 megatons tones of TNT—more than 12 times more powerful than Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.


However, it appears like we will be safe this time, with astronomers projecting that the asteroid would pass the Earth at a distance of approximately 3.8 million miles, so don't rush out to see Armageddon/Deep Impact.


But, just in case things go wrong, humanity has a new trick up its sleeve to help ward off any dangerous-looking asteroids that may plague us in the future: the DART mission.


DART, or the 'Double Asteroid Redirection Test,' is the first test of a new system designed to prevent future asteroid crashes like the one that terminated the dinosaur era.


DART's mission is to "punch" an asteroid. It's the first demonstration of a "kinetic impactor technique," which is effectively a high-powered rifle designed to alter the motion of an asteroid in space.


Scientists will next seek to put DART to the test by shooting it toward 65803 Didymus, a near-Earth asteroid orbited by a tiny moonlet called Dimorphous. DART, which weighs about 80 stone and travels at nearly 15,000mph, will collide with the 55-foot wide mini-moon.


If successful, scientists will be able to shift the orbit of any approaching space junk, potentially knocking the next large asteroid out of our way before it becomes a huge concern.


But, regardless of what occurs, we won't know the results for a while—the 6.8 million mile journey to Dimorphous will take 10 months, and the collision isn't expected to happen until late September or early October 2022.

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