Two asteroids may pass Earth by a narrow margin today, says NASA; Check size, speed and more

To discover, track and monitor asteroids, NASA has several tech marvels in place. The NEOWISE telescope, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Pans-STARRS1, and Catalina Sky Survey are some of the space and ground-based telescopes and satellites which the space agency uses. Since there is a historical precedent of asteroids impacting Earth and causing cataclysmic damage, it is imperative that we keep an eye on them for any potential impact scenarios. NASA has now revealed that two asteroids will pass Earth by a close margin today, April 4.

Also Read: 10 breathtaking snapshots of Nebulae captured by NASA

Asteroid 2021 FD1: Details

The first asteroid to pass Earth today has been designated Asteroid 2021 FD1 by NASA’s Object Studies or CNEOS. It is expected to pass Earth at a distance of just 897,000 kilometres. As per NASA, it is travelling in its orbit at a speed of 31854 kilometres per hour which is much faster than an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)! 

In terms of size, feet wide, Asteroid 2021 FD1 is 52 feet wide, making it almost as big as a house. It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.

Also Read: James Webb Space Telescope – 10 spectacular celestial images

Asteroid 2023 GC2: Details

The second asteroid that will pass Earth has been given the designation of Asteroid 2023 GC2. During its close approach today, it will come as close as 3.3 million kilometres to Earth and is travelling in its orbit at a speed of 20464 kilometres per hour.

In terms of size, Asteroid 2023 GC2 is smaller than Asteroid 2021 FD1, with a width of just 38 feet, which makes it almost as big as a bus. NASA says the asteroid belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, which are Earth-crossing Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) with semi-major axes smaller than Earth’s. They are named after the asteroid American astronomer Eleanor Helin discovered 2062 Aten and the first of its kind at Palomar Observatory on January 7, 1976.

Also Read: What are asteroids and how is ESA tracking them?

It is important to note that while both asteroids have been termed Near-Earth Asteroids due to their close distance of passing, they are not expected to impact the planet.

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