The US space agency is warning of a salvo of space rocks headed for Earth, ranging in size from a paltry 10 meters in diameter all the way up to a positively petrifying 213.
When not keeping a close eye on its Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars this week, NASA is busy monitoring the sky for potential threats to life on Earth – namely asteroids. And this week is no exception, as five such space rocks are due to buzz the planet we call home.
On Sunday, the 10-meter asteroid 2021 DD1 and the 61-meter asteroid 2021 DK1 will shoot past Earth at a safe distance of 1.6 million kilometers and six million kilometers, respectively.
However, they are just the warm-up act for what NASA describes as the “stadium-sized” asteroid 2020 XU6, which measures some 213 meters in diameter. To put that into perspective, it’s twice as tall as London’s Big Ben and two and a half times as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
2020 XU6 is travelling at a speed of 8.4 kilometers per second or 30,240 kilometers an hour. Given that the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 kilometers, it would take the asteroid a little over an hour to complete a lap of the entire planet.
Mercifully, however, the space rock is expected to miss us by roughly four million kilometers when it flies by on February 22, so humanity can breathe a collective sigh of relief for now.
The giant space rock will be followed shortly after by 2020 BV9 (23 meters), which will pass at a distance of 5.6 million kilometers, and 2021 CC5 (40 meters), which will pass at roughly 6.9 million kilometers.
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