NASA did not warn that an asteroid would cause the "destruction of the earth" on May 6, 2022

NASA did not warn that an asteroid would cause the “destruction of the earth” on May 6, 2022

Social media posts claim NASA has set a date for “Earth destruction” as May 6, 2022, due to the “possible impact” of asteroid 2009 JF1. The entries, along with screenshots of news articles, have been shared more than 1,000 times since May 2. But although the American space agency has a recording of a celestial body that will pass “close” to the earth on this date, it has not made such an announcement. NASA experts told AFP that JF1 2009 was unlikely to collide with the planet.

“NASA sets a date for the destruction of the Earth: May 6, 2022”it is read in some of the images broadcast on Facebook, instagram, Twitter and items (a, of them, 3).

Screenshot of a Facebook post posted on May 3, 2022

Similar content is also circulating on English Yes Portuguese.

Asteroids are rocky objects smaller than planets, formed about 4.5 billion years ago. Most orbit the Sun, usually between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Data, characteristics and location of asteroids in the solar system (AFP / Jonathan STOREY)

JF1 2009 was discovered on May 4, 2009 and is classified by NASA as “small object” and as “Near-Earth Asteroid” (NEO for its acronyms in English).

However, it is not true that the American space agency announced that this celestial body would cause “the destruction of the Earth” May 6, 2022.

The research carried out by AFP Factual in the website of the space agency did not lead to results on this request. There are no traces either. return machine Is Archive platforms that allow copies of content to be saved even after deletion.

Low probability of impact

According to the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOSfor its acronym in English), a NASA organization that monitors the probability of impact of asteroids, the JF1 2009 has a probability very low chance of colliding with the planet, 0.00074% or one in 140,000. In other words, the rocky body has a 99.99926% chance of not hitting Earth.

In fact, the 2009 JF1 does not appear on the list of sentinels from the US space agency, which monitors potential impacts on the planet.

Nail Research on the CNEOS website with the mention “destruction of the earth” in English did not yield results. Similarly, no articles were found in the section of informationnor in their archived versions (a, of them).

Consulted by AFP Factual on May 5, 2022, Dr. Paul W. Chodas Director of CNEOS, confirmed that “the chances of having an impact on JF1 2009 are extremely, extremely low (…) and the asteroid is so small that it shouldn’t be a cause for concern at all.”.

“Whoever announced our calculations for 2009 JF1 apparently had to dig deep to find it on our list of over a thousand other potential hits.”have settled on publications circulating on social networks.

Chodas also clarified that the 2009 JF1 is not on the Sentry list for tracking potential impacts. “Because it’s extremely unlikely and the asteroid is very small.”

The European Space Agency reported initially on 14 February 2022 that the probability of impact from JF1 2009 was 1 in 4,000, which constituted “one of the most predictable events” on your risk list. After further investigation, the likelihood “reduced to just 1 in 1,700,000” and therefore the body was “relegated with other more routine items that pose minimal threat”adds the institution.

A scientist observes through the Swope Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in the Atacama Desert, northern Chile, on October 14, 2021 (AFP / Martin Bernetti)

about the asteroid

Louis Barrera doctor in astrophysics and academic at the Metropolitan University of Educational Sciences of Chile, explained to AFP that “When NASA calculates and indicates that there are near-Earth objects, it does not mean an impact”since the asteroid is still “very far”.

“The data indicates that this object [el 2009 JF1] it is quite far from Earth compared to others that are closer”he added.

Barrera said the 2009 JF1 can be called a “Apollo”that is to say celestial bodies which “they are not of a size that could produce a phenomenon [destrucción] worldwide “. If 2009 JF1 were a threat, it would be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (AHP for its acronyms in English).

AFP did not find in website from the CNEOS to 2009 JF1 within this classification because because of its measurements, 10 meters in diameter, it does not meet the conditions to be registered in this way either. Barrera explained that potentially dangerous asteroids are larger than a kilometer in diameter.

Chodas agreed that the asteroid is “very small” and that in the event of an impact on May 6, 2022, “it would burn up in the atmosphere, producing little more than a shower of small meteorites”.

AFP Factual has done other checks on asteroids (a, of them).

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