NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which detects and predicts the trajectories of near-Earth space objects (NEOs) like asteroids, has confirmed that four new asteroids are heading towards Earth and are expected to enter our orbit over the weekend.
NASA reveals 4 asteroids heading towards Earth this weekend
NASA's advanced asteroid tracking system has found four asteroids that are making their way towards our planet and are expected to arrive this weekend, including one that is as big as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The agency has identified the first asteroid as 2020 FK, which according to the CNEOS database, measures in at about 43 feet in diameter, making it the smallest space rock in the group.
However, what this asteroid lacks in size, it makes up for in speed, travelling across space at speeds of over 23,000 miles an hour. Trailing behind it is asteroid 2020 FS, which is hurling towards Earth at a speed of roughly 9,600 miles an hour and is about 56 feet wide.
The third asteroid, dubbed 2020 DP4, is the biggest of the lot, with a diameter of a whopping 180 feet, travelling at a speed of 18,000 miles an hour. Lastly, asteroid number four, named 2020 FF1, is about 49 feet wide but is the racing towards our planet at a speed of 29,000 miles an hour.
When will they enter Earth's orbit?
These two asteroids will enter Earth's proximity on Saturday. 2020 FK is expected to zip through on March 21 at 12:05 am EDT at a distance of about 0.00909 astronomical units or around 845,000 miles away from Earth. 2020 FS, on the other hand, will whiz past our planet on March 21 at 11:29 am EDT at a distance of about 0.02096 astronomical units from the Earth's center, which is equivalent to around 1.9 million miles.
2020 DP4 and 2020 FF1 will both come within close range on Sunday. 2020 DP4 will fly past Earth on March 22 at 2:34 pm EDT at a distance of about 0.00903 astronomical units or 840,000 miles away. 2020 FF1, however, will come very close, on March 22 at 6:09 pm.
As for 2020 FF1, this asteroid will approach from a much closer distance whooshing past us at a distance of only 0.00477 astronomical units or 443,000 miles away. Asteroid fly-bys are nothing to be worried about and are a common occurrence. However, the threat of an asteroid colliding with Earth cannot entirely be ruled out if there's a deviation in the trajectories of the space rocks, as pointed out by CNEOS.