Two humongous asteroids, each capable of annihilating an entire city, are approaching our planet, NASA reported. The agency’s Centre for Near-Earth Objects, tasked with monitoring celestial objects that may pose a danger to the Earth, reported that the two asteroids will swoosh past us this week.
The tracking information is published by NASA on the “NEO Earth Close Approaches” list. It tracks all comets and asteroids with paths around the sun that take it within 121 million miles of the star and 30 million miles of earth’s orbit.
This week, seven Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) will fly by our planet at an estimated distance between 3.23 and 18.25 Lunar Distance, which translates to more than 77,000 and 4.3 million miles.
CNEOS director Paul Chodas told Newsweek that sounds very, very far away, but it is relatively “close” in astronomical terms. The largest of the rocks is known as 216258 or WH1 and it is 1,771-feet wide and traveling more than 26,000 miles per hour. Although it’s track will keep it about 15 times as far away as our moon, Chodas says there is still little that we understand little about its physical properties:
WH1 is categorized as “potentially hazardous” because it may cross Earth’s orbit at some point in the next few centuries or millennia. As a result, Chodas said that it is “prudent” to keep tracking this asteroid for decades to come to see how its orbit might evolve.
“Close approaches by asteroids of this size (a few hundred meters) at these quite large distances (15 to 20 lunar distances) are not unusual at all: they happen roughly once a month or so, on average,” Chodas said.