Double asteroid whammy! NASA telescopes track two 120-foot space rocks hurtling towards Earth

NASA’s telescope has observed two airplane-sized asteroids approaching Earth at a fiery speed. Know what the space agency said.

| Updated on: May 21 2023, 08:46 IST
Two 120-foot-wide asteroids will make their closest approach to Earth today. (Pixabay)
Two 120-foot-wide asteroids will make their closest approach to Earth today. (Pixabay)

Asteroids are remnants from the early formation of our solar system. They revolve mainly in the asteroid belt, a region located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But these space rocks can also be found outside the asteroid belt and they can come in very close to Earth. This can potentially be hazardous if they strike! NASA has a number of telescopes in space and on the ground and these have caught two perilous 120-foot asteroids nearing Earth today.

Based on data from CNEOS, the first asteroid, named 2023 JK, is approximately 120-foot in size, similar to the size of an airplane, and is travelling at a swift speed of 33,420 kilometers per hour. The second space rock known as asteroid 2023 JD4, shares the same size and it too is rapidly approaching Earth at a speed of 37,141 kilometers per hour.

Not just that, these monster rocks will have a close encounter with Earth. As per NASA's asteroid data tracking webpage, asteroid 2023 JK will approach Earth at a distance of merely 1.03 million miles. Similarly, asteroid 2023 JD4 is set to come as close as 1.93 million miles. Do these asteroids pose any danger? NASA shares the details.

Upcoming asteroids danger

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for NEO Studies keeps a list of near-Earth objects (NEOs) that may come close to Earth, aiming to identify potential risks in advance. NASA's JPL categorizes space rocks larger than around 150 meters and approaching within 4.6 million miles of Earth as "potentially hazardous objects."

Fortunately, these asteroids are not classified as potentially hazardous. However, the gravitational force of a planet can sometimes alter their trajectory, potentially leading them even closer towards Earth. That can pose a significant risk of a catastrophic impact.

NASA's tech for tracking asteroids

NASA uses various technologies, such as telescopes and satellites to monitor these asteroids. Planetary radar, conducted by radio telescopes at NASA's Deep Space Network and the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, provide some of the most detailed characterization data for NEOs that come close enough to Earth to be observed.

Apart from these, various telescopes and observatories such as the Pan-STARRS, the Catalina Sky Survey, and the NEOWISE telescope also help to track these asteroids.

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First Published Date: 21 May, 08:46 IST