This small piece of news appeared in The Ph-Word when it was a newsletter, back in June ’19; the actual issue can still be read here.
Asteroid 1999 KW4 flew by us at about thirteen times the distance to moon, successfully monitored the whole time by the International Asteroid Warning System. What’s the big deal, you say? Its observation was part of the preparations for something you’re gonna like: NASA’s DART mission.
In 2022 a quite similar asteroid, Didymos, will fly by at a similar distance and NASA is planning to crash a spacecraft on it. Didymos’ speed is expected to change by 1% and the goal is to determine if the impact will deflect it off its course, preparing for the case that some random silly “near-earth object” will try to get intimate with us in the future. Because after you’ve reached the capacity to self-destruct, you can’t let nature do the task for you as if you were a mere dinosaur.