Dec 14, 2021 - Science

Asteroids visualized

Screenshot of asteroids tracked by NASA as visualized in a graphic
Asteroids tracked by NASA. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is constantly tracking potentially dangerous asteroids in Earth's vicinity, and now a new tool allows anyone to explore their paths through the solar system.

Why it matters: There are about 28,000 near-Earth asteroids and comets tracked by astronomers to make sure they don't pose a risk to our planet.

Details: The interactive tool allows anyone using it to zoom in on specific asteroids of interest in order to learn more about the objects and their orbits.

  • Another feature of the tool allows users to see the next five close approaches of asteroids to Earth.
  • "We were keen to include this feature, as asteroid close approaches often generate a lot of interest," Jason Craig, one of the developers of the tool, said in a statement.
  • "The headlines often depict these close approaches as ‘dangerously’ close, but users will see by using Eyes just how distant most of these encounters really are."

What's next: A NASA mission called DART is currently on its way to impact a near-Earth asteroid and learn how to redirect it.

  • That type of tech could come in handy if one of these possibly dangerous space rocks is ever found on a collision course with Earth.
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