The asteroid early warning system monitored by NASA has posted advance notice of a number of space rocks inbound in the coming days, with one set to travel within just 120,000km of our planet.
On September 1, a 25-meter (three London buses end-to-end) and a 28-meter (one and a half times the length of a bowling lane) asteroid are charted to fly past at a distance of 2.9 million and 121,000 km respectively.
Will #asteroid 2011 ES4 hit Earth? 🌎 No! 2011 ES4’s close approach is “close” on an astronomical scale but poses no danger of actually hitting Earth. #PlanetaryDefense experts expect it to safely pass by at least 45,000 miles (792,000 football fields) away on Tuesday Sept. 1.— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) August 28, 2020
While the US space agency assured its Twitter followers over the weekend that there’s probably nothing to worry about, for perspective the Moon is 384,400 km away, so it will be quite a close call indeed - astronomically speaking - especially given the risk posed by an object which is estimated to be travelling at a speed of 8.16 km per second.
According to one Twitter commentator’s calculations, the flyby distance will be roughly the equivalent of twice the round trip distance between Santiago, Chile and Beijing, China.
Hi, I live in Santiago, Chile. To express that distance in a way that makes more sense, it can be said that the asteroid will pass a distance less than traveling twice roundtrip between Santiago Chile and Beijing China. pic.twitter.com/tT69yQ1rzP— 🇨🇱 Eduardo 🇨🇱 (@abdemo) August 28, 2020
As if a one-two combo of cosmic proportions wasn’t enough, the very next day, the 13-meter-diameter ‘2020 PG6’ is due to fly past harmlessly at a relatively safe distance of 2.2 million kilometers.
The breathing room will be much appreciated - given how 2020 has gone so far, we could do without being buzzed constantly by cosmic debris. Online commentators couldn’t help but poke fun, asking either for respite from the relentless onslaught of apocalyptic news or, with some gallows humor, asking for one of the space rocks to put an end to a terrible year.
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To close out the week, however, will be the grande finale: a 150-meter behemoth - half the height of the Eiffel Tower - labeled ‘2010 FR’ is expected to shoot past us at a distance of 7.4 million kilometers on September 6.
Last but not least, bringing an end to the pre-autumnal assault, on September 8 the asteroid 2020 PT4, (measuring 35m in diameter) will zip past at 1.8 million kilometers.
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