What are the asteroids that will pass close to the earth in the next few weeks? Is there a risk of collision?
Over the next month a number of large asteroids will pass by Earth within a distance to put them on NASA’s list of potentially hazardous objects.
Earth is constantly being bombarded by objects from space, 100 billion tons per year according to NASA, however most are too small to get past the atmosphere. Even those that do generally fall where they can do little harm.
Still NASA is always on the lookout for any potential objects that could strike Earth and keeps a list of those that could be “potentially hazardous”. A few of these are set to pass by Earth in the coming weeks. But you can rest sound, there is luckily “no known asteroid threats to Earth for at least 100 years,” according to the US space agency.
Thousands of asteroids in the vicinity of Earth
NASA Near-Earth Object Observations program keeps track of thousands of objects that are floating through our neck of the solar system. Just over 29,000 have been identified to date, with more discovered on a daily basis.
One recent asteroid was spotted just hours before it crashed into the Earth’s atmosphere in March. At a little more than six feet, or two meters, in diameter, it was much too small to pose a threat to the planet, but gave the planetary defense community a great chance to exercise its know-how and “gave some confidence that the impact prediction models at CNEOS are highly capable of informing the response to the potential impact of a larger object.”
The worry comes from much larger asteroids, those with a diameter between 25 meters, or over 80 feet, and one kilometer, or half a mile, would likely cause local damage around the site of the impact. Anything larger could have worldwide effects according to NASA’s asteroid facts.
Asteroids making Earth flybys over the coming weeks
The Minor Planet Center at International Astronomical Union keeps a list of near-earth objects as well as “minor planets, comets and outer irregular natural satellites of the major planets.” There are four objects that could be deemed “potentially hazardous” according to the criteria of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Cal Tech.
These are objects that measure more than 150 meters and will pass within a distance roughly 4.6 million miles, or 7.5 million kilometers, from Earth. That is about 19.5 times the distance to the moon, so there won’t be any close calls. But if you want to find out just how much damage an Earth impact could cause, you can check an online tool provided by the Imperial College of London and Purdue University.
The biggest asteroid that will make a flyby is coming on 9 May, 467460, also known as 2006 JF42, will zip past our planet at a distance of nearly 15 lunar distance (LD). It measures roughly 488 meters, or 1,600 feet, according to JPL but estimates put it at up to 840 meters.
Potentially hazardous objects
|Object||Date||Distance (LD)||Estimated Size (m)|
|467460 (2006 JF42)||9 May||14.87||260-840|
|388945 (2008 TZ3)||15 May||14.95||160-490|
|2013 UX||17 May||16.75||75-240|
|2022 HT2||30 May||11.9||120-380|
Source: International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center
Another fifteen smaller objects between now and 1 June will pass within range to be put on JPL’s Asteroid Watch dashboard, which shows the next five asteroids and comets that will approach Earth.