Two enormous asteroids the size of buildings will fly past the Earth as you relax this weekend, according to NASA’s Asteroid Watch.
Asteroids, also referred to as the asteroid belt, are objects made of rock, dust, and metallic minerals that predominantly reside in the space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. However, some asteroids deviate from this path and are outside Neptune’s orbit, while others approach the Sun more closely. These asteroids are categorized as Near-Earth Objects because they occasionally approach Earth very closely while traveling through the Earth’s orbit (NEOs).
An asteroid must be within 1.3 astronomical units (AU) of Earth to be classified as a NEO, or it must be at least 460 feet (140 m) away from the Sun to qualify as a potentially dangerous object (PHO).
The asteroids could be dangerous.
2016 CZ31 is the name of the first asteroid to fly by Earth. According to a report from LiveScience, it will pass today at around 7 p.m. ET (2300 GMT) at a speed of 34,560 mph (55,618 kph). The asteroid is barely 400 feet from being categorized as a PHO but is still the size of a building you might see in a major metropolis.
At a distance of 1.7 million miles (2.8 million km), or just over seven times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, CZ31 will pass by us.
Today, two other asteroids, 2022 OG1 and 2022 NU1, are also anticipated to fly by the Earth. They are, however, not much larger than an airplane and are quite smaller.
Asteroid 2013 CU83, which will pass by Earth tomorrow or on July 30th, is 600 feet (183 m) in diameter, making it far bigger than CZ31. Additionally, it will pass us at 4.3 million miles away (6.9 million km).
Approximately 7:37 p.m. ET (23:37 GMT) is the anticipated time of the flyby, and the larger asteroid will move somewhat more slowly at a speed of 13,153 mph (21,168 kph).
keeping an eye out for dangerous meteors
Even though these asteroids are moving safely away from Earth, their orbits may shift if they come into contact with the gravitational pull of other celestial bodies. While astronomers work to maintain track of the orbits over time, there occasionally arise surprises.
Only a week before they passed by Earth at a distance of 84,000 miles (135,000 km) and 55,000 miles (89,000 km), respectively, asteroids 2022 NE and 2022 NF were found. Even though the asteroids were very tiny in size and would not have caused catastrophic damage if they had struck Earth, scientists have been working on techniques to deflect asteroids from our planet in case they ever came straight for us.
NASA launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission in November of last year to crash a spacecraft into an asteroid and track the trajectory shift. This year’s experiment is anticipated to take place later.