NASA, along with many space agencies, keep tabs on thousands of near-Earth objects. Besides, they observed two huge asteroids heading towards Earth and who will be near it this weekend. According to NASA data, one reached its closest distance to Earth on Friday, July 29, around 11 p.m. GMT. The other, meanwhile, will approach this Saturday, July 30, at 23:37 GMT.
NASA has observed this first asteroid before. She explained that it was near Earth approximately every two years. Its next merger is normally scheduled for January 2028.
Both asteroids will be close to Earth
The first asteroid was named 2016 CZ31. NASA estimated its speed at 55,618 km/h, during its passage near our planet. According to astronomers, this space rock measures about 122 meters in diameter at its widest point. It is therefore as wide as a 40 storey building. It will be approximately 2,800,000 kilometers from Earth. This is more than seven times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
The other asteroid, called 2013 CU83, is about 183 m in diameter at its widest point. This one will pass at a greater distance from the Earth, at about 6,960,000 kilometers. This distance is approximately 18 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. Its speed will be 21,168 km/h when it is next to the Earth.
However, on July 7, asteroid 2022 NF approached even closer than these two asteroids, less than 90,000 kilometers away. This is about 23% of the average distance between Earth and the Moon.
NASA has launched a spacecraft capable of deflecting the trajectory of asteroids
An asteroid generally moves at million kilometers from earth. However, there is a very small chance that interaction with the gravity of a larger object, such as a planet, will cause its orbit to deviate slightly. A change, however small, could cause a collision with the Earth during a future flyover.
Faced with such a threat, space agencies must always be on the lookout in order to maintain planetary security. That’s why NASA launched an asteroid deflection spacecraft, which is called Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), in November 2021. Its mission will be to directly crash into the asteroid Dimorphos, which is 160 meters widein the fall of 2022.
LiveScience reported that space rock will not be destroyed. The collision is believed to cause a slight deviation from its orbital path. Astronomers will be able to assess the viability of deflecting asteroids from this launch. Thus, astronomers will be prepared for a possible threat from a future asteroid.