A giant asteroid will whiz by Earth in 10 years

In 2029 the asteroid Apophis will come closer to Earth than some of our satellites. Image Credit NASA  JPL-Caltech

In 2029 the asteroid Apophis will come closer to Earth than some of our satellites. Image Credit NASA JPL-Caltech

Paul Chodas, the director of JPL's Center for Near Earth Objects Studies, pointed out to NASA that Apophis is only one of roughly 2,000 known potentially hazardous asteroids in space. In two of the five particles, the team identified the mineral pyroxene.

Samples from another asteroid, Ryugu, had almost no water at all. That's about the same distance as some spacecraft orbit the earth at.

It's not the first time asteroids have flown this close to Earth, but the ones that have been previously observed are smaller at 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters) wide.

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Scientists from Jet Propulsion Laboratory took the lead at discussions this week at the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference in Maryland about a 1,100-foot-wide asteroid that will hurtle by Earth in a near-miss flyby in 2019. At one point, it encountered high temperatures that heated it to 1,000 or 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The parent body suffered several large shocks from impacts, with one final shattering event that broke it apart. Two fragments then merged together about eight million years ago and become Itokawa. In two of the five particles analyzed, the team identified the mineral pyroxene.

According to NASA, such a large object passing close to Earth is a relatively rare phenomenon. After they cut off the water loss due to heating and other actions, it was predicted that the space rock held around 160 to 510 ppm water within. The minerals are also similar in composition to those found on Earth. Other scenarios possibly explaining Earth's water sources include the gradual accumulation of ice in pebble-sized bodies as the snow line migrated and the ingassing of molecular hydrogen by growing planets.

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Apophis is one of the approximately 2,000 potentially risky asteroids known today. The researchers say their findings suggest these supposedly "dry" asteroids may contain more water than is now assumed, and they calculated that as much as half the water in Earth's oceans could have been delivered to the early planet by meteorite impacts.

"We think of many inner Solar System materials, those that comprise S-type asteroids in particular, as being essentially dry", Thomas told Newsweek. "It was a privilege that the Japanese space agency JAXA was willing to share five particles from Itokawa with a US investigator", said Maitrayee Bose, a co-author on the paper and an assistant professor of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU.

"The Hayabusa mission to Itokawa has expanded our knowledge of the volatile contents of the bodies that helped from Earth", Bose said.

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