An Asteroid wearing a face mask is approaching earth but worry not it is practising social distancing too
Coronavirus is EVERYWHERE! Seems like even the cosmos are now mocking us. An asteroid called 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a face mask while nearing Earth. With the Coronavirus induced global lockdown, nature has shown us some mesmerizing sights in the sky like the Super Pink Moon and the Lyrid Meteor Shower. But a masked asteroid almost feels like a sign!
Heads Up! An asteroid wearing a face mask will come closest to Earth on April 29
- Like Humans The Asteroid is Taking Precautions Too
- It’s also Practising ‘Social Distancing’ Protocol
- This is Not the Only Time asteroid 1998 OR2 will Approach Earth
The Asteroid Is Taking Precautions
The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is tracking the asteroid. They captured the radar view of the travelling asteroid that makes it look like it’s sporting a face mask.
Research scientist Anne Virkki says, “Since we are all thinking about COVID-19 these features make it look like 1998 OR2 remembered to wear a mask.” The topographical features of the space rock give it the masked appearance but for the researchers, its much more ‘fascinating scientifically.’
The fuzzy radar imagery leaves a lot of room for imagination. In the past fun radar views of asteroids have come up like 2003 SD220 that looked like a hippo or say a creepy space slug.
Another space rock 2017 BQ6 looked like tumbling dices from Dungeon and Dragons. And the famous skull-shaped ‘death comet’ asteroid 2015 TB145 that was nicknamed Great Pumpkin by NASA which aptly timed itself around Halloween.
1998 OR2 is Practicing Social Distancing
Not only wearing a mask but the asteroid is also taking the social distancing rule very strictly. It will fly past Earth at a distance of 6.3 million kilometres from the Earth.
To put that in perspective, the distance between the earth and the moon is 3,85,000 kilometres. The distance between the approaching asteroid and planet earth is 16.4x greater than the distance between the Earth and the Moon. The heavenly body will make its closest approach on April 29.
But it won’t be its only visit nearing earth 1998 OR2 will again approach the Earth in 2079 making the radar observation all the more imperative. Research Scientist Flaviane Venditti tells, “In 2079, asteroid 1998 OR2 will pass Earth about 3.5 times closer than it will this year, so it is important to know its orbit precisely.”