The Near-Earth orbit will be busy as NASA detects four medium-sized asteroids getting close to Earth. The Center for Near-Earth-Object Studies follow the orbit close to the earth. CNEOS, which has been closely observing the orbit, spotted asteroids near the planet.
One asteroid, named 2020 BL8, with a size of 138 feet will be entering earth's vicinity. It is speeding through space at 7,000 mph, with another trailing behind.
The estimated time when 2020 BL8 reaches the earth's farthest orbit is on Feb. 8 am EST. Upon the final approach of the asteroid that zooms past the planet will be at about 1.6 million miles.
Accelerating behind 2020 BL8 is another asteroid with a far larger diameter, called 2020 BQ11. This is part of the quadruplet going the same way. Compared to the others, the 2020 BQ11 is the biggest and travels the greatest velocity amongst the four. CNEOS has announced that the 235-foot behemoth is zooming at 47,000 miles per hour towards the earth.
But the CNEOS states that it will not fly as close as 2020 BL8 on the same date at 12:06 pm EST. In comparison to 1.6 million miles, the large asteroid will fly-by at 3.4 million miles out. Asteroids that are as big as 2020 BQ11 can cause significant damage. Hence, its that good it is that far out.
Another third asteroid that will do a similar fly-by is the 2020 BW5. This is smaller than 2020 BL8, with a diameter of 102 feet long and acceleration at 20,000 miles per hour.
Analysis of the trajectory and flight path of the 2020 BW5 shows that it will enter the earth's immediate space on Feb.9 at exactly 3:41 pm EST. It will make a similar approach from the orbit at 1.2 million miles.
After the outer space fly-by of 2020 BW5, the last of the asteroid quartet will be 2020 BK10. The foreign body, according to CNEOS, is as big as 114 feet, larger than 2020 BW5. Telescopes have calculated it has a total velocity of 26,000 mph that is 6000 mph faster, than the asteroid before it. This approach will be the closest of all intersecting orbits of the four asteroids heading towards earth.
Scientists looking at the CNEOS data have estimated that 202 BK10 will be close at 455,000 miles away. Expecting the entry into the earth's closest orbit on Feb. 9 at 7:31 pm EST, the asteroid is closest to the others that have flown by.
Asteroids, like this quartet are called Apollo's, named after the Greek god who flew his chariot through the sun. Similarly, these asteroids do the same thing by having orbits that are attracted by the solar system's sun.
Aside from NASA and CNEOS, other agencies like the European Space Agency (ESA) has a sky watch for potential planet-killers or smaller asteroids that can do significant damage on impact.
According to Dr Bruce Betts (The Planetary Society), a neo earth object is where a comet or asteroid reaches 30 million miles out of earth orbit. They are viewed as planetary hazards that can strike the planet.
Should an asteroid alert be sounded, it measures 460-feet in diameter and will have a close intersecting trajectory at 4.5 million miles away. Smaller asteroids do impact the earth twice in hundred years which are usually as big as 2020 BQ11. This space rock is called a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA).
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