Two skyscraper-sized asteroids are hurtling toward Earth this weekend, with one making its closest approach on Friday (July 29) and the second whizzing by on Saturday (July 30).
Astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about 122 meters at its widest point, about the width of a 40-story building. The asteroid will certainly miss our planet and will be about 1,740,000 miles (2,800,000 kilometers) from it Earth — or more than seven times the average distance between Earth and the moon. According to NASA, this space rock approaches Earth every few years, with the next scheduled for January 2028.
On Saturday, a second, larger and larger asteroid will fly past our planet, albeit at a greater distance from Earth. This asteroid, named 2013 CU83, measures about 183 m (600 ft) in diameter at its widest visible point and will be about 6,960,000 km (4,320,000 miles) from Earth, which is about 18 times the average distance between the earth and the moon.
This colossal space rock will be traveling at 21,168 km/h (13,153 mph) as it approaches Earth at 19:37 ET (23:37 GMT).
These two close encounters are significantly further apart than that Asteroid 2022 NFapproaching to within 90,000 km (56,000 miles) — or about 23% of the average distance between Earth and the Moon — on July 7.
NASA and other space agencies are closely monitoring thousands of near-Earth objects like this one. Even if an asteroid’s trajectory is millions of kilometers away from our planet, there is an extremely small chance that the asteroid’s orbit will change slightly after interacting with the planet heaviness from a larger object, like a planet; Even such a tiny shift could potentially put an asteroid on a collision course with Earth on a future flyby.
Therefore, space agencies take the defense of the planet very seriously. In November 2021, NASA launched an asteroid-deflecting spacecraft called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) that will impact directly into the 160m-wide asteroid Dimorphos autumn 2022. The collision will not destroy the asteroid, but it might change the orbit of the space rock easily, Live Science previously reported. The mission will help test the viability of asteroid deflection should a future asteroid pose an imminent threat to our planet.
Originally published on Live Science.
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