The Earth will experience a number of (relatively) close calls in one day, as NASA reports that an alarming total of five asteroids will hurtle towards – but happily not quite at – our planet.
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The Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California publishes a comprehensive list of space rocks that are worth keeping an eye on, just to prepare yourself for any potential armageddons or extinction-level collisions. These rocks can range in size from a few meters in length to asteroids more akin to skyscrapers.
The series of space rock flybys begins at 10:29 UTC Sunday as asteroid 2013 US3, travelling at a respectable 7.69 km/s (27,646 kph) with a diameter of between 160-360 meters whizzes past us. For comparison, the Eiffel Tower measures 324 meters from ground to tip.
Next up are asteroids 2018 GO4 and 2018 GY1, which are expected to scream past us at 12:34 and 18:20 UTC respectively.
Asteroid 2018 GO4 measures approximately 30-68 meters (between three and six school buses in diameter) and has a brisk pace of 8.57 km/s. Meanwhile, 2018 GY1, on the other hand, won’t be hanging around our neck of the galactic woods for long given that it travels at a whopping 16.69 km/s, despite measuring 100 and 230 meters in diameter.
Closing the day’s near orbit rock show will be asteroid 2028 FV4 at 19:13 UTC (at 6.52 km/s) followed two hours later by 2002 JR100 at 21:15 UTC (7.68 km/s), both with a diameter of roughly a Boeing 747 (between 60 and 71 meters). Thankfully, the rocks are projected to hurtle past us at the relatively safe distance of 3,870,720 km (roughly 10 times further away than the moon is from Earth), so we needn’t worry too much.
Should similar space rocks come a little too close for comfort, NASA is working on inventive ways to make sure we don’t go the way of the dinosaurs, including nuclear detonations and intense laser blasts.