The American space agency has shared an image, which monitored the movements of major asteroids Lina and Klotho, both located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Lina is about 37 miles (60 km) in diameter and has more than 2,000 days to orbit the Sun. Klotho is a bit larger, having 50.9 miles (82 km) in diameter and has a 1,596-day orbit around our host star.
NEOWISE Telescope Continually Monitors the Asteroids
NASA has monitored the space rocks using the NEOWISE telescope. It also states on its official website: “Appearing as strings of orange dots, the brightest sets of dots belong to asteroids Klotho and Lina. Both orbit out in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, while smaller, more distant asteroids can also be seen passing through the image.”
These space objects were photographed by NEOWISE, as part of the asteroid-hunting project of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. The telescope collects measurements of asteroids and comets from WISE images and offers a rather generous archive for Solar System objects.
Space rocks within the asteroid belt allegedly pose almost no danger to Earth, because of the role that Jupiter has in the Solar System. The gigantic planet has such a powerful gravitational pull that it actually helps keep the asteroid belt in place, so the objects are not traveling around the whole system.
The Prospect of an Asteroid Colliding with Earth is Almost Impossible
There is also a rather large number of hypotheses that the gas planet draws loose space rocks, such as asteroids, comets, and meteors. NASA has explained on its website that astronomers believe that if it were not for Jupiter using its gravitational pull on these objects in the belt, the inner planets would be continually at risk of collision with large asteroids.
“The presence of Jupiter actually protects Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars from repeated asteroid collisions!,” a NASA statement read.
The possibilities of a major asteroid colliding with Earth are actually little, with the space agency claiming a one-in-300,000 chance every year that a space body that could produce regional damage will crash. Still, the prospect is possible, NASA says.
Physicist Rob van den Berg wrote on the Q&A website Quora: “Small asteroids are of course pretty harmless, they evaporate in the atmosphere before they reach the ground. If they do reach the ground, they don’t do all that much damage (compared to what they can do).”
He continued: “Sure, it will cost a lot to repair all the windows, but it’s extremely unlikely to actually get hit by one (as far as I know, only two recorded cases of that in all our history). The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs had a size of about 10 miles, and such impacts only happen every several million years (since this particular one was the last, it has been 65 million years now).”