If you love playing Dungeons and Dragons, you have found your next favorite asteroid! The NASA Goldstone Solar System Radar is located in California’s Mojave Desert captured an oddly-shaped asteroid, looking like a dice used for D&D games, on February 7.
Lance Brenner from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated that “The radar images show relatively sharp corners, flat regions, concavities, and small bright spots that may be boulders,” and that the newly discovered asteroid is more angular than other near-Earth asteroid captured by NASA’s radar.
The asteroid, known as 2017 BQ6, reminded Brenner of the dice used in Dungeons and Dragons. The asteroid passes safely about 1.6 million miles from the Earth on February 6, 10: 36 p.m. PST (February 7, 1:36 a.m. EST). The 2017 BQ6 was first spotted by the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Project, a NASA-funded program operated by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, on Jan. 26, 2017.
Another asteroid, dubbed 2017 AG3, barely missed the Earth, at least when looked on an astronomical scale, passing at about half the distance between the moon and the planet. The size of the 2017 AG3 is around the same (between 36 and 111 feet) as the size of the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. The rock that exploded over Chelyabinsk was about 65 feet in diameter.
Although NASA detected thousands of asteroids and started following their orbits, the space agency says that the Earth is not ready for the potential asteroid impact, especially for a surprise impact that would come from some, yet-undiscovered, space rock. At least the chances of an extinction-level asteroid impact happening in the next century are pretty low, less than 0.01 percent.
United Nations declared June 30 – the same day when Tunguska asteroid hit Siberia, more than a century ago – as International Asteroid Day, in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of the potential asteroid impact, as well as to raise efforts to keep out planet safe from drifting space rocks.