Two asteroids are hurtling towards Earth at a terrifying pace, NASA has revealed. According to CNEOS data, the first asteroid, named 2020 DG4, which is about 25-foot in diameter, roughly the size of a bus, is moving at a rapid speed of 24,913 kilometres per hour. The second asteroid, named 2023 CW2, a 14-foot space rock, is rushing towards Earth at a speed of 8,112 kilometres per hour. Despite their small sizes, you may be wondering why have they become a cause for concern.
The main concern is the close proximity of the asteroids to Earth. According to NASA’s asteroid data tracking page, Asteroid 2020 DG4 will come alarmingly close to Earth on February 17, at a distance of only 343,000 miles. Similarly, asteroid 2023 CW2 will be just 387,000 miles away from Earth, which is only slightly farther than the distance between Earth and the Moon. The average distance between the Earth and the Moon is approximately 239,000 miles.
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.” This is precisely what makes the small asteroid a potential threat to Earth.
How NASA tracks 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.