NASA says three asteroids will make a “close approach” to Earth tonight

NASA says three asteroids will make a “close approach” to Earth tonight – including one that is nearly as large as the Statue of Liberty

  • The first of three asteroids passed Earth on Monday evening at 5:39 PM
  • It will fly about a million miles from the Earth and has a diameter of 255 feet
  • The others will fly between 1.7 and 11.4 times farther from the earth than the moon
  • The moon is approximately 238,855 miles away and the distance is used for comparison

Three asteroids, including about four-fifths the size of the Statue of Liberty, are coming ‘close’ to Earth tonight, according to NASA.

The space agency publishes details of Near Earth Objects and makes what it says a near approach to the planet, including those up to tens of millions of kilometers away.

The asteroids that fly along the Earth tonight vary in size from the smallest at 55 feet to the largest at no less than 252 feet in diameter. One has already passed and is flying close to earth at 5.39 pm.

NASA says that none of the asteroids will come “too close,” with the closest of the three still about 1.7 times farther away from the Earth than the moon.

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The largest asteroid that passes this evening is called 2019 YR3 and will pass nearly a million miles from the Earth – more than three times farther away than the moon. It is larger than the leaning tower of Pisa and almost as large as the Statue of Liberty

The biggest asteroid of the day has already passed us by – the gigantic rock of 360 feet of space passed more than three million miles from the Earth at about 7:00 GMT.

The first asteroid to come by tonight has a diameter of about 252 feet and will zoom past nearly a million miles of Earth at 5:39 PM GMT.

The closest approach will be to the smallest of asteroids with a diameter of only 55 feet – it will fly 415 thousands of miles at 6:39 PM GMT.

The last flight of the night will come at 19:59 GMT in the form of an asteroid with a diameter of 226 feet, but it will be a way out at 2,728,252 miles from us.

For comparison: the moon is located at 238,855 miles from the earth.

In the coming days there will be more “near approaches”, according to the Near Earth Object catalog published by NASA.

The largest will have a huge 460 feet in diameter and will pass about 7.3 times farther from the Earth than the moon at 9:34 GMT on January 2.

However, that pales in comparison to the largest asteroid that makes a “close approach” in February when a space rock of 3,248 feet will fly 3.5 million miles from Earth.

At 3248 feet, the asteroid flying past Valentine’s Day is about 500 feet taller than the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates.

None of these asteroids are likely to hit Earth, according to NASA, because they are too far away, but there are objects above that can and without warning.

Near Earth Objects are comets and asteroids that have been pushed by gravity into orbits with which they can enter near Earth, according to NASA.

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies maintains a catalog of these objects and their orbits to predict potential approach or even collision.

Three asteroids, including one about four-fifths the size of the Statue of Liberty, will make a “close approach” to Earth tonight, according to NASA (stock image)

The agency says that their catalog is by no means complete and that not all approaches can be predicted with a high degree of certainty.

NASA says that asteroid impacts are a “continuous occurring natural process” in which more than 80 tons of material fall from space to the earth every day.

In the last 20 years, nearly 600 very small asteroids of a few meters have entered the Earth’s atmosphere, the agency said, with the most combustion.

Asteroid collisions, such as those exploded in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, with a diameter of approximately 55 feet, occur approximately once a century.

“Given the current incompleteness of the NEO catalog, an unpredicted impact – such as the Chelyabinsk event – can occur at any time,” said NASA.

IS EARTH SUITABLE FOR A GREAT ASTEROID IMPACT?

Researchers have discovered most of the asteroids that are about a kilometer in size, but are now hunting for those of about 140 meters – because they can cause catastrophic damage.

Although no one knows when the next major impact will occur, scientists are under pressure to predict – and intercept – its arrival.

Artist's impression shown

Artist's impression shown

Artist’s impression shown

“Sooner or later we will have … a small or large impact,” said Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt

It may not happen in our lives, he said, but “the risk of ever being hit by a devastating event is very high.”

“For now there is little we can do.”

Source: AFP

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