Asteroids deemed potentially hazardous by officials at the US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are set to swing past Earth this week, starting on Tuesday.
The first, 2016 NFB23, will fly past Earth Tuesday at roughly 11:38 p.m. EDT at a lunar distance of about 13.2, which translates to more than 3.1 million miles from our home planet, according to Space.com. Officials have estimated that the massive rock is between 229 feet and 524 feet in diameter and is traveling at a speed of roughly 20,000 mph.
Although NASA has labeled the asteroid as potentially dangerous to Earthlings as a precaution, officials stress that it poses no real threat. “This object is merely designated a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) because its orbit over time brings it within 5 million miles of Earth’s orbit, but there is nothing hazardous to Earth or even unique about this pass of the asteroid,” NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson told the outlet.
But 2016 NFB23 isn’t the only friendly asteroid expected to stop by for a quick hello. Another Near-Earth Object, named 1998 SD9, will fly past Earth on Wednesday at about 3:27 a.m. EDT. The asteroid, estimated to be between 126 feet and 282 feet in diameter, will travel at a lunar distance of 4.2 at over 23,000 mph.
Wrapping up the flybys in August will be asteroid 2018 DE1, which is expected to make an appearance on Thursday. This fella will be further away than 2016 NFB 23 when it travels past Earth at 15.8 lunar distances.
And that’s still not all, folks. Though dozens of asteroids are expected to show their faces in the coming months, one among them is already sparking chatter thanks to its ghoulish appearance. On November 11, asteroid 2015 TB145, also known as the Halloween asteroid, will approach Earth at a lunar distance of 105.
?The skull-faced rock, which was detected by the Pan-Starrs 1 telescope in 2015, is speculated to be an extinct comet that lost its water and other volatile materials after taking several laps around the sun, Space.com reported. The last time the rock swung by Earth was October 31, 2015.
“Although this [November 2018] approach shall not be so favorable, we will be able to obtain new data which could help improve our knowledge of this mass and other similar masses that come close to our planet,” Pablo Santos-Sanz, an astrophysicist at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain, said in a statement.