In aerospace, nothing is ever left unturned and the perfect demonstration is that of a asteroid which continued to pose a threat to our planet. The name of the celestial object is 2021 QM1: should we start worrying even if its approach to Earth is planned in the future very far from the present day?
There are many asteroids that pass near the Earth, but this one is a separate case. The possible impact should take place on April 2, 2052therefore in exactly thirty years, even if it is necessary to continuously monitor it carefully after the first sighting which dates back to last year.
In fact, the asteroid 2021 QM1, as its name suggests, has been identified for the first time ever August 28 last year, therefore practically twelve months ago. The credit is due to some researchers who were in Arizona and who found confirmation in this sense from the surveys of various telescopes. To complicate the observations, a cosmic alignment took place that for some months made it impossible to understand where this wandering space rock was. L’European Space Agency (ESA) has spread through its channels a message that is all in all reassuring.
Removal from the “black list”
The date may remain valid, but experts are confident that asteroid 2021 QM1 will not hit Earth for at least the next century. Until a few days ago, the celestial object was part of a list of space “threats” to keep under control, but the astronomers of the European Southern Observatory have decided to permanently remove it from the list. While NASA works with an ad hoc satellite to avoid a hypothetical collision with another asteroid, ESA has chosen to favor the path of prudence. The turning point regarding the dangerous space fragment took place last May 24.
On that occasion, Olivier Hainaut and Marco Micheli exploited the VLT (Very Large Telescope) of the aforementioned European Southern Observatory to take brand new images of the asteroid. The device is very sophisticated as it consists of four distinct optical telescopes and four other smaller telescopes, so observations are as accurate as ever. It took some time to process the various data collected and in the end the result was reassuring for the fate of our planet. Among other things, the two researchers were the protagonists of a very particular scientific survey.
In fact, we are talking about the detection of the weakest asteroid that has ever been carried out so far. Specifically, the magnitude of 2021 QM1 was equal to 27, a significant number to say the least because it represents a brightness that is 250 million times weaker than the less intense stars that the human eye can detect. The celestial object that has long frightened astronomers came out without too many compliments from the list of which, however, still others are part 1377 asteroids. For all these rocks the risks are not yet over, in the hope that there are not some able to approach the Earth almost without scientists noticing.