Asteroid news: NASA pinpoints when ‘potentially hazardous’ space rock will fly past Earth

Asteroid 2011 ES4, which measures approximately 150ft (50m) across, is expected to hurtle past the Earth at staggering speeds of 18,253mph (29,375kmh) next month. And although the size and speed of the asteroid is not that unusual, this space rock will fly past Earth at a far closer distance than the Moon.

The asteroid is actually listed by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS)’s ‘Close Approaches’ database.

The space agency’s CNEOS classifies Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) as comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into the Sun’s orbits.

This allows them to occasionally pass extremely close to Earth.

Although comets were formed in the cold outer planetary system, the majority of asteroids are created inside the solar system between the orbits of red planet Mars and gas giant Jupiter.

The CNEOS database reveals the asteroid will pass by the Earth on September 1 at 3.49pm BST (10.49am ET).

Asteroid 2011 ES4 will fly by at 0.00048 AU (Astronomical Units) away – approximately 44,618 miles).

This distance is far closer to Earth than the Moon, which usually orbits at a distance of 238,855 miles (384,399km) distant.

But although NASA classifies the asteroid’s relative proximity as ‘potentially hazardous’, the US-based space agency does not identify the space rock as a threat due to its small size.

The CNEOS classified the 2011 ES4 to be an Apollo asteroid – a type pf space rock which has a rather wide orbit around the Earth and the Sun.

2011 ES4’s orbit occasionally intersects with Earth’s during the planet’s revolutions around the Sun.

But scientists have not seen the asteroid since March 2011.

They consequently they hope to get a glimpse of its travel during its next appearance.

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NASA has listed 12 asteroids to fly by the Earth until the end of August.

NASA said in a statement: ”Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.

“Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are considered PHAs.”

HEAD – August’s NEO Earth close approaches:

2020 PC – August 11

2020 PO – August 12

2020 FA1 – August 23

2016 AH164 – August 26

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