There are as many as 5 asteroids of various sizes expected to pass Earth within half a million miles this week. Photo/Live Science
FLORIDA – As many as 5 asteroids of various sizes are expected to pass Earth within half a million miles this week. The five asteroids are the size of a plane or a bus, and are not dangerous.
According to NASA’s Asteroid Watch database, the five asteroids, the smallest the size of a bus, crossed Earth’s orbit between Friday September 8 and Saturday September 9. The first is the asteroid 2023 RG with a width of about 12 meters, which will fly past Earth at a distance of 1.6 million kilometers.
Then, asteroid GE 2023 is 27 meters wide, asteroid QC5 2023 is 25 meters wide, and GE 2020 is 8 meters wide. The three asteroids will approach a distance of 1 million miles, 4 million km and 5.7 million km from Earth.
Finally, the asteroid 2023 RL measuring 7 meters wide will pass by Earth at a cosmically very short distance, namely 755,000 km on September 9. NASA labels any space object within 193 million km of Earth as a “near-Earth object.”
NASA also classifies any large object within 7.5 million km of Earth as “potentially hazardous”. NASA tracks the locations and orbits of about 28,000 asteroids, following this with the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), a series of four telescopes that can perform a scan of the entire night sky every 24 hours.
“NASA has predicted the trajectories of all these near-Earth objects after the end of this century. Earth faces no danger of an apocalyptic asteroid collision for at least the next 100 years, according to NASA,” Live Science wrote, quoted by SINDOnews, Sunday (10/9/2023).
If all five of these fast-approaching asteroids hit Earth, it would not have caused a catastrophic event like the 12km-wide dinosaur-killing asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago. But that doesn’t mean smaller asteroids are harmless.
In March 2021, for example, a meteor the size of a bowling ball exploded in Vermont with the force of 200 kilograms of TNT. Even more dramatically, the 18-meter-wide meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, produced an explosion roughly equivalent to about 400 to 500 kilotons of TNT, or 26 to 33 times the energy released by the Hiroshima bomb.
Space agencies around the world are looking for ways to deflect dangerous asteroids if one is heading towards Earth. On September 26, 2022, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft deflected the asteroid Dimorphos by crashing it off course.
China also said it was in the initial planning stages for an asteroid diversion mission. By throwing 23 Long March 5 rockets at the asteroid Bennu, which will swing within 7.4 million km of Earth’s orbit between 2175 and 2199.