According to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA’s asteroid tracker, two asteroids – measuring up to 830-850 metres each in diameter – are approaching Earth as they move ahead in their orbits around the Sun. However, they are not seen as a threat to our planet as they are expected to simply pass by without causing any harm.
The pair of asteroids approaching Earth have been named 488453 (1994 XD) and 2020 DB5. On Monday, 488453 (1994 XD) will draw close to our planet, followed by the expected rendezvous of 2020 DB5 on June 15. These asteroids fall into the category of potentially hazardous asteroids due to their diameters surpassing 150 metres.
Asteroid 488453 (1994 XD) is expected to hurtle past Earth at an astounding velocity of 77,292 kilometres per hour. During this close approach, it will come within a distance of 31,62,498 kilometres to our planet. This asteroid previously graced Earth with its presence more than a decade ago, precisely on November 27, 2012. Following its current trajectory, it will make its return to Earth once again in the year 2030, marking a span of seven years between visits.
On June 15, the asteroid known as 2020 DB5 will make a close pass by Earth, reaching a distance of approximately 43,08,418 kilometres from our planet. It will be travelling at a speed of 34,272 kilometres per hour. This asteroid previously visited Earth in 1995 and its next encounter with our planet is predicted to occur on May 2, 2048, when it will approach within approximately 5,32,67,313 kilometres of Earth.
How big are the asteroids?
According to data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid known as 488453 (1994 XD) has an estimated diameter ranging between 370 and 830 metres, which is equivalent to approximately 1,213 and 2,723 feet. The asteroid 2020 DB5 has an estimated diameter between 380 and 850 metres.
On an astronomical scale, these sizes are remarkably significant, especially in relation to asteroids that pass near Earth.
To put this in context, the Empire State Building stands at a height of around 1,250 feet at its roof and reaches a maximum height of 1,400 feet at its tallest point.
NASA has taken proactive measures to deflect asteroids to protect the earth from its impact. Its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission was the first of its kind, specifically designed to explore and showcase a method of deflecting asteroids. It aims to alter the motion of an asteroid in space using kinetic impact, demonstrating NASA’s commitment to asteroid deflection research.