Five close approaches of asteroids to be aware of in the coming days

Asteroid passes are often events that capture the imagination of the public, as NASA keeps track of any potential threats in space.

The film Don’t Look Up, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence was an entertaining watch. However, it didn’t do much to reassure people about the prospect of a large space rock slamming into the surface of the Earth, potentially wiping all life on Earth in one quick go.

Five ‘close’ approaches of asteroids passing Earth are set to take place soon in the next two days, as the flying rock tumbles and shoots past Old Blue.

Some asteroids can be very difficult to detect and one small asteroid collided with the Earth’s atmosphere on March 11, only hours after it was spotted.

NASA’s JPL section keep an eye out for nearby asteroids

It was harmless and only one to two metres across, burning up in the atmosphere.

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Larger asteroids are easier to spot and experts keep track of them to make sure we know if they are about to collide with Earth. Here are the upcoming asteroid passes in 2022.

When is the next asteroid set to pass Earth in 2022?

Asteroid heading towards Earth
A near miss is still millions of miles from Earth

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a list of the next five close approaches by asteroids and the next is on March 16., 2022.

1.65million miles away, 2022 EF4 will scorch by the Earth at the size of a cricket pitch.

It is one of many approaches in the coming days, which is kept a watch on by JPL. JPL is NASA’s Jet Propulsion Library and its centre for robotic exploration of the solar system.

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The one following 2022 EF4 will be 2022 EL6, which will pass by at the closest distance to any of the next five at around 1.28mn miles away on March 17, 2022.

2022 EL6 will be accompanied on the same day by 2022 EM6 at around 1.76mn miles from the Earth and both are around 34 metres in size.

For context, the average distance between Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles, so the near passes leave a fair bit of breathing room.

Two more will pass in the coming days, both on March 17 and these are 2022 EU6 and 2019 PH1, the latter will be the largest of all of the next five asteroids at 37 metres, described as ‘aeroplane size’ by JPL.

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These asteroids will be 1.84million and 2.93million miles away respectively, so they are no cause for concern.

What happens if an asteroid is heading towards Earth?

Asteroid hitting Earth
A large asteroid hitting another could be a catastrophic event, but NASA has its boffins well-placed

If an asteroid is indeed headlining right at Earth, then NASA’s Planetary Defence Coordination Office (PDCO) should be able to deal with it.

They monitor Near-Earth objects (NEOs) and their job is to provide early detection of potentially dangerous NEOs, known as potentially hazardous objects (PHOs)

They are the organisation responsible for coordinating with the US government any response to deal with the threat.

They said: “Small asteroids a few meters in size are detected passing between Earth and the Moon’s orbit several times a month.

“Meteoroids – very small fragments of asteroids and comets less than 3 feet (1 meter) in size – hit Earth’s atmosphere and explode virtually every day.”


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