Asteroid 2016 CZ31 Approaching Earth This Week

This weekend, two asteroids the size of skyscrapers are hurtling toward Earth, one of which will pass by at its closest point on Friday, July 29, and the other on Saturday (30 July). NASA estimates that the first asteroid, 2016 CZ31, will pass by on Friday at around 7 p.m. ET (23:00 GMT) travelling at a speed of about 34,560 mph (55,618 kph). The asteroid, which is roughly as wide as a 40-story skyscraper is tall, is thought to be 400 feet (122 metres) across at its widest point. At approximately 1,740,000 miles (2,800,000 kilometres) from Earth, or more than seven times the typical distance between Earth and the Moon, the asteroid will safely miss our planet.

The next close encounter of this space rock with Earth is expected for January 2028, according to NASA. A second, larger asteroid will pass by Earth on Saturday, albeit it will be farther away. At its widest visible point, that asteroid, 2013 CU83, is roughly 600 feet (183 metres) across. It will pass Earth at a distance of 4,320,000 miles (6,960,000 kilometres), or nearly 18 times the normal distance between Earth and the Moon. When this enormous space rock approaches Earth at 7:37 p.m. ET, it will be moving at a speed of 13,153 mph (21,168 km/h) (23:37 GMT).

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These two close approaches are also considerably farther away than the July 7 close encounter with the asteroid 2022 NF, which was approximately 56,000 miles (90,000 km) or roughly 23% of the average distance between Earth and the Moon. Thousands of these near-Earth objects are carefully monitored by NASA and other space agencies. There is a very rare probability that an asteroid’s orbit could significantly change after contacting with the gravity of a larger object, such as a planet; even such a small adjustment could theoretically put a space rock millions of kilometres from our planet.

a potential flyby of an asteroid headed straight for Earth. As a result, space agencies are quite serious about planetary defence. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), a NASA asteroid-deflecting spacecraft, was launched in November 2021 and will collide with the 525-foot-wide (160 m) asteroid Dimorphos in autumn 2022. The asteroid won’t be destroyed by the collision, although Live Science previously reported that the space rock’s orbital route might be somewhat altered. Should an asteroid threaten the globe in the future, the mission will help test the effectiveness of asteroid deflection.

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