Aerospace & Defence

Possible Impact with Asteroid 2006 Qv89 Ruled Out Due To Uncertain Position

Asteroid 2006 QV89, a potentially hazardous object which was found to have a small chance of impact with Earth, is no longer detectable, and the chances of impact have been ruled out.

The near-earth-object which is roughly 100 feet in diameter was discovered in August 2006 at about 0.03 AU from Earth, and was estimated to approach the Earth in September 2019. However, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA) recently declared the asteroid as non-detectable, since it has not been detected since 2006, and therefore ruled out as a potential hazard to the Earth.

Back in August 2006, the asteroid was observed for exactly 10 days, before it was concluded that it had a 1 in 7000 chance of colliding with Earth. According to the announcement from the ESO Department of Communication, “While we do not know 2006 QV89’s trajectory exactly, we do know where it would appear in the sky if it were on a collision course with our planet. Therefore, we can simply observe this small area of the sky to check that the asteroid is indeed, hopefully, not there.” That is exactly what the ESO and ESA did with the help of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) located in Chile.

The team observed the area for single, big black, round source that may have been on a collision course towards the Earth. “Even if the asteroid were smaller than expected, at only a few metres across, it would have been seen in the image. Any smaller than this and the VLT could not have spotted it, but it would also be considered harmless as any asteroid this size would burn up in Earth’s atmosphere,” the team concluded. Based on these observations, the impact was ruled out on 16th July 2019.