Lifestyle

The Asteroid Flying By Earth Today Won't Hit Us, Experts Say

It's an interplanetary emissary sent to say, 'Hello, take care.'
IMAGE Arecibo Observatory, NASA

An asteroid that looks like it's wearing a face mask will whiz past Earth on April 29. The interplanetary emissary sent to say “Hello, take care” as the world grapples with a pandemic is officially called 52768 (1998 OR2) and was first detected in 1998.

An image captured by a giant radio telescope in the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, U.S. shows the asteroid partially lit by the sun. The grainy picture is not a photograph, but a visual output of radio signals collected by the radio telescope.

The asteroid is two kilometers in diameter or roughly an eighth of the size of Manila. It will not collide with our planet, but will pass within 6.3 million kilometers of Earth or the distance equivalent to 16 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

The Asteroid's Size Compared with Manila

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Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, released the following statement: "The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically, but since we are all thinking about COVID-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.”

Potentially Hazardous Space Objects

The face mask asteroid is considered a Near-Earth Asteroid or NEA, and is one of at least 20,000 NEAs tracked by space agencies around the world to prepare for possible impacts.

If a NEA that is larger than 140 meters in diameter crosses the Earth’s orbit around the sun, it is considered a Potentially Hazardous Object or PHO, in the sense that it could cause significant planetary damage in the event of an impact.

Just seven months ago in September 2019, astronomers around the world were shocked and caught off-guard when a huge asteroid came so close to Earth and missed impacting the planet by just 64,000 kilometers—a hairline in planetary distances. It came closer than the moon, which is 384,400 kilometers away from Earth. The object was named Asteroid 2019 OK. NASA admitted that it sneaked up on them and it was not on its list of NEAs or PHOs.

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In February 2013, a similar event took place, but Earth wasn’t so lucky. An undetected asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over Siberia, injuring thousands of people and damaging thousands of structures. It is now known as the Chelyabinsk Event.

This story originally appeared on Esquiremag.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Candymag.com editors.

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If you know me, and know me well, I am not the biggest fan of idyllic lifestyles. With a Type A personality, I act immediately upon whatever challenge that needs to be addressed. I actually enjoy keeping my mind preoccupied: doing university work in my favourite cafe then running errands around town, grocery shopping here, updating my accounts there, photocopying documents on the way down the street - all just in time before having a glass of champagne at the bar with my friends come evening.

And so, you could imagine my bewilderment when the next challenge to be faced was an extensive self-quarantine protocol. I didn’t know what to do when my greatest responsibility in this situation was to do nothing at all. My first few attempts to combat my consternation were very much rooted in distraction and imagination. My distractions involved conducting research, writing songs, calling family and friends, filming videos, and eating chocolate! My imaginations and fantasies were centred on travelling, shopping, even clubbing (which I rarely do) for when they find a cure to COVID-19. I did anything and everything that could be considered constructive in order to pass the time, mainly hoping I could just undertake the basic human necessities to survive - that is, eat and sleep the day through - until the next day comes, until the world is closer to becoming a better place, until quarantine ends, until my flight follows through, until I see my family and friends again.

Days in self-isolation and suspended flights turned to weeks and turned to months. By the third extension here in Spain where I study Fashion Business, I had to tell myself this shall be my new normal now, that I was blessed to be healthy, that I was tired of merely existing and missed what it was like to actually live - even if just within four walls. Little by little, I began to find significance in the simple occurrences of the day: the soft glare of the rising sun beaming golden streaks through my bedroom window upon waking up, the fragrance of freshly washed bed sheets that I had painstakingly hung to fit a relatively small clothes rack without crumpling them, the crunch and tanginess of warm toasted bread topped with raspberry marmalade, the buzzing sound of a phone call from home just waiting to be answered, to the caress of a fuzzy sweater to keep warm at night. I realised, “What pleasures to be enjoyed in the pause of slow living!” Through this continued pause, which I loathed at first, I began to appreciate each moment of the day rather than wish it would pass more swiftly, moments I had overlooked so often before the lockdown. I started to find that the challenge of self-isolation was never to pause both the regular routines of life as well as the positive emotions that came with these - as initially, I thought it meant to pause all happiness, so as to withstand a time of endurance in hopes for a better tomorrow, much like a form of delaying gratification. Life is just too fragile these days to delay gratification any further.

Life has paused, but it has not stopped. Believe that like any punctuation mark in a sentence, the pause will provide the right timing of things to take place. Till then, let us not waste our time waiting. Instead, we could be in the moment, seek substance in simplicity (that is, in what we already have), And enjoy the pleasure in pause. “Practice the Pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”

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