In 2013, an asteroid with a diameter of around 65 feet burst approximately 18 miles above the surface of the Earth above Russia. The shockwave from this explosion spread across six cities, hurting more than 1,500 people and causing more than 7,000 buildings to sustain damage. It is a great relief to know that the two enormous asteroids that will be traveling by Earth this week do not stand a chance of approaching the planet at a distance that would be dangerous or create cause for alarm. The distance of 1.7 million kilometers that separates Earth from the asteroid 2016 CZ31 ensures that our species will remain unharmed.
NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has been keeping track of two abnormally large asteroids that will have what is considered by experts to be a close encounter with Earth. Despite the fact that the asteroids will fly by at a distance that is quite safe, the experts consider this to be a close encounter. The first of them will occur on July 29 at 7:02 p.m. Eastern Time, when the asteroid 2016 CZ31 will fly by Earth at a distance of 1.7 million miles at a speed of 34,500 miles per hour. According to Newsweek, this travels at a speed that is one-fifth that of a lightning bolt and is seventeen times quicker than a bullet fired from a rifle.
The rock that is speeding toward Earth is not as enormous as the one that is coming the next day, but it is significantly larger than the asteroid event that occurred in 2013 since it can reach a diameter of up to 722 feet. This makes it taller than the Space Needle in Seattle.
The magnitude of the distance, which is as much as seven times as far away from Earth as the Moon is, does not arouse concern, but the object nevertheless meets the criteria for a near-Earth object in the context of the Milky Way’s overall structure.
The much larger 2013 CU83 asteroid, this one as big as 1,050 feet across, will swing by Earth at a relatively pedestrian 13,100 miles per hour, while it is over 3 million miles away. This event will take place almost exactly 24 hours after the 2016 CZ31 event. It will take place at 7:37 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, July 30. It has a height that is comparable to that of both the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Empire State Building in New York City.
The NASA center performs continuous monitoring of space objects, and although there are frequent close approaches to Earth, the majority of the 29,000 known asteroids are too tiny to pose any kind of threat. The most recent asteroid to reach the atmosphere of Earth was designated 2022 EB5, and it had a width of slightly more than 2 meters when it did so on March 11, 2022, over the Norwegian Sea. Upon entering the atmosphere, the asteroid exploded into fragments.
On the basis of the projected trajectory, NASA’s Scout impact hazard assessment system anticipated that a collision would occur. This was just the fifth tiny asteroid to be discovered in orbit before it reached Earth’s atmosphere. Researchers anticipate that a greater number of objects will be discovered prior to them entering the atmosphere as the survey system continues to advance in sophistication and sensitivity. And the larger the asteroid, the better the opportunity to discover and track its trajectory, which can frequently provide a warning of a probable impact for a period of several years in advance.
According to Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS, who was quoted in a news release, “Tiny asteroids like 2022 EB5 are plentiful, and they smash into the atmosphere very frequently, roughly every 10 months or so.” “But very few of these asteroids have actually been detected in space and observed extensively prior to impact. This is primarily due to the fact that they are extremely faint up until the final few hours, and a survey telescope needs to observe exactly the right spot of the sky at the exact right time for one to be detected.”
Researchers have known for years about the two massive asteroids that will be passing Earth this week. Because of their immense distance from our planet, we are able to marvel at their size, speed, and proximity to Earth, while also taking solace in the knowledge that, in the grand scheme of interstellar distances, these near-Earth objects are only relatively close to our home planet.
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