NASA has been reportedly gearing up for planetary defense from asteroid impact for years, while a recent survey showing Americans prefer a space program that focuses on potential asteroid impacts over sending humans back to the Moon or to Mars
Several asteroids zooming towards planet Earth at breakneck speed are expected to make “close approaches” to Earth on 12 November, NASA’s asteroid tracking system has confirmed.
The asteroids are estimated to arrive within hours of one another, starting at 4.54 a.m. GMT.
According to NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the first asteroid that will approach Earth is called 2019 VW1, travelling at a speed of about 19,000 miles per hour, and estimated to be about 44 meters wide.
The second asteroid to zoom in on Earth on Tuesday is identified as 2019 VK3 and has a diameter of 43 meters.
Trailing behind 2019 VK3 is 2019 VN2, which is only about 24 meters wide.
The fourth asteroid is called 2019 UB14 and is estimated to be about 38 meters wide.
The agency noted that it is currently moving towards Earth at a speed of 35,000 miles per hour.
NASA has dubbed the speedy rocks Near-Earth Objects or NEO asteroids, which are comets and asteroids that orbit the Sun from a distance of 1.3 astronomical units.
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As NASA keeps a watchful eye on these space rocks to evaluate their potential for impact, according to a 2018 report put together by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEOs.
«Potentially hazardous» NEOs are defined as space objects that come within 0.05 astronomical units and measure more than 460 feet in diameter, according to NASA.
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NASA has been reportedly preparing for planetary defence from asteroid strikes for years, with a June AP-NORC poll finding that Americans prefer that the space agency focus on tracking potential asteroid threats rather than sending humans back to the Moon or to Mars.
Last June, the space agency unveiled a 20-page plan that detailed the steps the US should take to be better prepared for NEOs – such as asteroids and comets – that come within 30 million miles of the planet.
Separately in April, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that an asteroid strike is not something to be taken lightly and is perhaps Earth’s biggest threat.