NASA is keeping watch on a humongous asteroid that is quickly approaching Earth every day. The North American Space Agency website’s Asteroid Watch Widget shows the next five asteroids and comets that are expected to make relatively close approaches to earth in the next few days.
Among these is a large comet that is expected to be 1,100 feet wide (335 meters), approximately the size of a football stadium or the Wilshire Grand Center skyscraper in Los Angeles and larger than New York’s Empire State Building.
The comet, which is named 2002 NN4, is expected to come closest to our planeton Saturday, June 6th, according to NASA. The space rock is categorized as an Aten-class Asteroid, but is also classified by the space agency as a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), reports Tech Times.
Scientists are making it clear that any possibility of a collision here on Earth is EXTREMELY remote – in fact, its closest approach will be a distant 3,160,000 miles (over 5 million km.) away from home base.
While the asteroid is considered somewhat small in relation to the much larger rocks shooting across our galaxy, the 2002 NN4 is also 90 percent larger than the four others listed. These include three others about the size of a plane and another the size of a house that are approaching the Earth. The closest one is expected to come within 1,830,000 miles of Earth today.
潜在的に危険な #小惑星 (PHA)アテン型の(163348)=2002 NN4が2020年6月6日に地心から約511万km(月迄の距離の13倍)まで近づきます. この天体は2002年7月9日に米国,ニューメキシコのLincoln Observatory ETSで発見されたもので推定直径は250-570mです. https://t.co/77MveSCLKdhttps://t.co/f3LygyjTdM pic.twitter.com/ruqdZxJuss
— Atsuo ASAMI 浅見敦夫 (@AsamiAtsuo) May 24, 2020
Researchers say that the asteroid completes its orbit around the sun every 0.82 years, or 300 days.
Scientists predict numerous “close approaches” of the asteroid to the Earth in the future. While only 30 close approaches are forecast at the moment, 2002 NN4 will return to our neighborhood in nine years, on June 29 – so if you want to wave at this distant traveler, Saturday will be your only chance for some time.
Space.com has also reported that small asteroids pass by our planet on a monthly basis. One such small asteroid, 2020 HS7, safely passes near Earth several times each month, NASA Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson said in an April 28 statement.
“It poses no threat to our planet, and even if it were on a collision path with Earth it is small enough that it would be disintegrated by our Earth’s atmosphere,” the planetary defense official added.
Yet 2020 HS7 was still came startlingly close to the planet, coming a mere 26,550 miles (42,735 km) within the Earth’s center and only 750 miles (1,200 km) from the closest satellite in geostationary orbit, which is one of the more distant satellite rings surrounding Earth. The space rock passed well below the satellite, however, leaving it unscathed.
The flybys are a good display of our planetary defense apparatus in action. Space authorities like NASA and the European Space Agency identify the asteroids in our galactic “neighborhood” beginning with the largest, while tracking their orbital trajectory. As scientists compile more and more data on these space rocks, they are able to plot their orbits more accurately and calculate the probability – or lack thereof – of any impact with our planet.