(ORDO NEWS) — In the coming days, two asteroids will make a safe flyby near the Earth. It will be asteroid 2009 JF1 and 467460 (2006 JF42), which will fly by our planet on Friday (May 6) and on Victory Day, on Monday, May 9, respectively.
NASA monitors all asteroids through a network of partner telescopes and its Planetary Defense Coordinating Office. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory also has a wealth of asteroid statistics that can be viewed, including a list of known upcoming flybys and a database of small bodies.
There is even a curated list of asteroids that the agency monitors that require “increased attention” because the likelihood of a collision with them is statistically probable. Officials are updating it as new information comes in, including delisting the asteroid Apophis in 2021 after new observations showed it poses no threat for the next 100 years.
NASA classifies some asteroids as “potentially hazardous” – a complex calculation that involves size (over 150 meters) and the distance at which an object approaches Earth, among other factors. But this designation is by no means a warning of an impending problem: despite decades of searching, there are no known threats to Earth in the coming decades.
However, it would be more correct to say that in the zone of space around the Earth there are many space rocks, and as our detection capabilities increase, we will observe more and more asteroids.
So, let’s talk about what is known about these small worlds in terms of their size and the next expected approach.
2008 AG33 has a diameter of 350-780 meters and approached the Earth at a distance of about 3.2 million kilometers, which is about eight times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. Of course, by space standards, this is very small, but still this is a safe distance for the flight.
The same can be said about the two closest approaches. Asteroid 2009 JF1, which is only about 10 meters in diameter, was removed from the European Space Agency’s watch list in February after observations by the Gaia mission showed it was unlikely to hit Earth.
“This experiment proves the importance of an astrometric catalog such as Gaia,” the ESA said, adding that even if an asteroid planned to crash into us, it “is not of serious concern.”
As for the 2006 JF42, it is more massive – from 380 to 860 meters in diameter. At the same time, its closest passage with our planet is 5.7 million kilometers, which is more than 14 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
NASA is always reassuring when it comes to such things, including a December 2021 announcement that clearly states: “Fortunately, there are no known asteroid threats to Earth for at least 100 years.” So you can take it easy for now while scientists continue to scan the sky for more information.
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