Asteroid 2023 SN6 belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids.
An asteroid drifts aimlessly through the vast expanse of space. With no fixed path or destination, the 'cosmic nomad' sometimes comes in close contact with other space objects and planets due to gravitational forces. Space agencies like NASA have developed programmes to keep a watch on these celestial wanderers so that our planet can be kept safe from any catastrophic impact. The American space agency has even created a dedicated page listing the asteroids that will pass very close to the Earth. And that list shows Asteroid 2023 SN6 racing towards out home planet.
The aircraft-sized space rock will pass cross Earth at a distance of 4.8 million kilometres on October 4 (Wednesday) - still close considering distance in the space is measured in astronomical terms.
According to NASA data, the asteroid is travelling at a speed of 30,564 kilometres per hour.
However, the space agency's Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) hasn't classified the asteroid as a potentially hazardous object.
It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, named after the 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.
Asteroids, space rocks that are remnants from the formation of our solar system, often tumble and spin, and are propelled forward by the momentum of its birthplace. Their surface, weathered by eons of cosmic radiation and micrometeoroid impacts, tell the story of asteroids' journey through the depths of the universe.
In 2022, NASA launched a mission to deflect an asteroid hurtling towards the Earth as part of its planetary defence mechanism. It is called Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART.
In the first phase, a spacecraft sent by NASA scientists crashed into Dimorphos, its targeted asteroid, on September 26, 2022.
The cube-shaped "impactor" vehicle, roughly the size of a vending machine, flew into the football stadium-sized asteroid about 11 million km from Earth.