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Two asteroids set to fly past the Earth on Friday – NASA – The Jerusalem Post

Two asteroids are set to fly past Earth on Friday, according to NASA’s asteroid tracker.

Which asteroid is coming towards Earth?

The two asteroids set to pass the Earth on Friday have been designated 2022 SW3 and 2022 QK36, according to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

How big is the asteroid coming towards Earth in 2022?

According to NASA, both asteroids are on the smaller side.

The first of the two, asteroid 2022 SW3, has been estimated by NASA to have a diameter ranging from 29 meters to 65 meters.

To put that size into perspective, 65 meters is close to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 jet plane.

El-Al Jumbo jet (credit: SIVAN FARAG)El-Al Jumbo jet (credit: SIVAN FARAG)

The next one, asteroid 2022 QK36, is even smaller, being estimated by NASA as having a diameter ranging between 16 meters and 36 meters.

Will an asteroid hit Earth in 2022?

If an asteroid does hit the Earth, it won’t be these two.

On average, the Moon orbits the Earth at an average distance of 384,000 kilometers. Most asteroids that do pass Earth tend to still be much farther than that, usually over a million kilometers at minimum. This is still close on a cosmic scale, but still far enough that we don’t need to worry.

But according to NASA, the closest asteroid out of these two, which would be asteroid 2022 SW3, will be flying approximately 2.7 million kilometers away from the Earth – which is much farther.

But still, even if one of these asteroids did hit the Earth, it wouldn’t cause much damage.

According to research from the Davidson Institute of Science, the educational arm of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, an asteroid 140 meters in diameter or more would release an amount of energy at least a thousand times greater than that released by the first atomic bomb if it impacted Earth.

An even larger asteroid that’s over 300 meters wide – like the Apophis asteroid – could destroy an entire continent. An asteroid over a kilometer in width – like asteroid 138971 (2001 CB21), which flew past the Earth in early March 2022 – could trigger a worldwide cataclysm.

At their size, these two asteroids would, at best, cause a loud explosion upon atmospheric entry. As for any actual damage, it would be minimal or completely nonexistent.

But as for the question of whether an asteroid will ever hit the Earth in 2022, the answer is yes. Or rather, it already happened.

Back in March 2022, the asteroid 2022 EB5, a small asteroid around half the size of a giraffe, struck the Earth just hours after its discovery, resulting in no damage.

When is the next asteroid predicted to hit the Earth?

Not for a long time, at the very least. NASA has declared the Earth free of risk of any catastrophic asteroid impacts for the next century.

 This mosaic of the asteroid Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years. (credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona) This mosaic of the asteroid Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years. (credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

What is the next asteroid to hit Earth?

Scientists don’t know for sure, but there are a few candidates.

Currently, one of the most dangerous asteroids for Earth is the asteroid Bennu, an enormous 500-meter-wide asteroid. If this asteroid impacted the Earth, the result would be catastrophic – but as far as NASA is aware, this won’t be for a long time, if ever.

NASA's DART Mission heads for an asteroid, from behind the NEXT–C ion engine (illustrative). (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)NASA’s DART Mission heads for an asteroid, from behind the NEXT–C ion engine (illustrative). (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)

Do we have any way to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth?

Not yet, but scientists working on it.

It’s a strong possibility, particularly with the field of asteroid deflecting.

The field of planetary defense is specifically organized to find ways of keeping the Earth safe from asteroids and scientists at NASA and across the world are hard at work trying to do just that.

Currently, the most promising of these efforts is NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which will see a small specially-designed spacecraft slam into an asteroid to see if it can possibly alter its orbit ever so slightly, which is what asteroid deflection is. But time will tell if this will prove effective.

The DART Mission is set to reach its target, the asteroid Dimorphous in the Didymous system, on September 26.

Aaron Reich contributed to this report.

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