A number of asteroids pass close to the Earth almost every day, but only a few of them pose risk to humanity. Today, NASA has issued a warning that two dangerous asteroids are ready to make their close approach to Earth. According to CNEOS data, the first asteroid, named 2023 HK, which is about 42-foot in size, roughly the size of a bus, is moving at a rapid speed of 57338 kilometres per hour. The second asteroid, named 2023 HJ, a 34-foot space rock, is rushing towards Earth at a speed of 33031 kilometres per hour. Despite their small sizes, you may be wondering why scientists are focusing on these asteroids.
The main concern issue is the proximity of asteroids to Earth. As per NASA’s asteroid data tracking webpage, asteroid 2023 HJ will approach Earth at a distance of merely 1.17 million miles. However, asteroid 2023 HK is particularly worrying as it will come remarkably close to Earth on April 20, at a distance of only 212,000 miles, even closer than the gap between Earth and the Moon, which measures 239,000 miles.
Do these asteroids pose danger to Earth?
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Center for NEO Studies maintains a list of near-Earth objects that are likely to make close approaches to Earth in order to detect any potential dangers ahead of time. NASA’s JPL has classified all space rocks that come within 4.6 million miles of Earth and have a size greater than approximately 150 meters as “potentially hazardous objects.”
Thankfully, these asteroids are not flagged as potentially hazardous objects. However, asteroids can be diverted from their path by the gravitational force of a planet, causing them to head towards a planet such as Earth, which could result in a catastrophic impact.
NASA’s tech for tracking asteroids
NASA uses various technologies, such as telescopes and satellites, both on Earth and in space, to monitor these asteroids. Planetary radar, conducted by radio telescopes at NASA’s Deep Space Network and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, provides some of the most detailed characterization data for NEOs that come close enough to Earth to be observed.