By Tony Winterburn • 21 February 2021 • 21:00
NASA Warns of Football Pitch Sized Asteroid Heading Towards Earth. image: Wikipedia
NASA Warns of Football Pitch Sized Asteroid Heading Towards Earth.
NASA, the US space agency, is warning of a salvo of space rocks headed for Earth, ranging in size from an insignificant 10 meters in diameter all the way up to a positively petrifying and dangerous 213 in size.
While it is 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.
Today, Sunday, Feb. 21, 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 kilometres and six million kilometres, 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 kilometres per second or 30,240 kilometres an hour. Given that the circumference of the Earth is 40,075 kilometres, it would take the asteroid a little over an hour to complete a lap of the entire planet.
Thankfully, however, the space rock is expected to miss us by roughly four million kilometres when it flies by on February 22, so we can all 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 kilometres, and 2021 CC5 (40 meters), which will pass at roughly 6.9 million kilometres.
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