News of an asteroid flying past the Earth always has us biting our nails. And the only thing scarier than a near-miss with one giant space rock is the prospect of it immediately being followed by another.
Recent reports suggest that we Earthlings are in for not one, but two asteroid close approaches!
According to NASA, the Asteroid 2016 CZ31 will make a ‘near approach’ on Friday (July 29), followed by Asteroid 531944 (2013 CU83) on Saturday (July 30).
Figures from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) database suggest that 2016 CZ31, spanning a width of 721 feet, will come no closer than approximately 1.7 million miles (roughly 2.7 million kilometres) to our planet at 11:02 pm UTC on Friday (4:32 am IST on Saturday).
For clarity, the distance at which 2016 CZ31 will fly past us is about seven times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. And while this might seem like an enormous distance, at the solar system’s scale, this is actually a narrow escape.
The 2016 CZ31 is expected to zoom past us at over 34,000 miles per hour (55,000 kmph) — seventeen times faster than a rifle bullet and around one-fifth as fast as a bolt of lightning.
The second asteroid, 2013 CU83, is the larger of the two and is about 1050 feet wide. It is likely to pass Earth at a distance of about 4.3 million miles (6.9 million kilometres) at 11:37 pm UTC on Saturday (5:07 am IST on Sunday).
The asteroid will be travelling slower than 2016 CZ3, reaching speeds of around 13,100 miles per hour (21,082 kmph).
But rest assured; fortunately, there is virtually no possibility of both of these space rocks striking the Earth.
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