NASA, the United States agency has confirmed that an asteroid named 2011 ES4 will make its close approach with the earth on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. During the time of its closest approach, this space rock will be closer to our planet than the moon. The estimated distance at which asteroid 2011 ES4 will come close to the earth is 1.2 lakh kilometers, while the moon is 3.84 lakh kilometers away from the earth.
Asteroid 2011 ES4: A Danger to Earth?
Even though this asteroid is passing very close to the earth, the probability of a potential collision is pretty less. According to NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), this asteroid is 20 meters wide, and even if it enters the earth's atmosphere, it will not hit the surface of the planet. However, a possible entry to the earth's atmosphere will create a mid-air explosion very similar to the Chelyabinsk incident.
It was in 2013 that a 66 feet asteroid underwent a mid-air explosion in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The mid-air explosion was very powerful, and it injured more than 1,000 people in the vicinity. The explosion also caused several structural damages.
According to NASA's calculations, asteroid 2011 ES4 is currently screeching across space at a speed of 29,367 kilometers per hour. Asteroid 2011 ES4 will be the closest to Earth for another decade as asteroid 2008 DB will approach earth in a similar trajectory in 2032.
Asteroid 2018 VP1 and Close Approach
In the meantime, another asteroid named 2018 VP1 will make its close approach on Nov. 2, 2020, a day before the US presidential elections. According to NASA, during the time of its close approach, this space rock will be between 4,700 to 260,000 miles away from the earth.
Interestingly, the chance of this space rock entering the earth's atmosphere is 1 in 240. However, the entry of this asteroid will not create any impact as it is just 7 feet in size. If it enters the earth's atmosphere, it will burn up as a tiny meteor.
In 2005, Congress assigned NASA the goal of finding 90% of the near-Earth asteroids that are about 460 feet (140 meters) or larger in size, which pose a much greater threat if they were to enter the earth's atmosphere.