A 1.2 miles-wide asteroid flying past Earth next week looks like it is wearing a facemask, much like the humans on the planet faced with Covid-19 pandemic.
This was revealed by the images released by Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.The asteroid,called 52768 (1998 OR2), was first spotted in 1998. The asteroid will pass within within 3,908,791 miles of Earth, moving at 19,461 miles per hour on April 29.
"The small-scale topographic features such as hills and ridges on one end of asteroid 1998 OR2 are fascinating scientifically," Anne Virkki, head of planetary radar at Arecibo Observatory, was quoted as saying by the CNN. "But since we are all thinking about Covid-19, these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask."
The asteroid 1998 OR2 will fly past Earth at a distance of 6.3 million kilometres from our planet, which, be rest assured, is more than just safe distance from us. For reference, the distance between the Earth and the moon is 3,85,000 (385,000) kilometres, which places the 1998 OR2 at a distance of 16.4x as that between Earth and its closest celestial body. According to NASA's official classification of asteroids and other space rock orbits, anything that intersects the Earth's orbit at a distance of less than 7.5 million kilometres will qualify as being potentially hazardous.