NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system has detected an asteroid that’s currently moving toward Earth. According to the data collected by the agency’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the incoming asteroid follows an Earth-crossing trajectory.
The approaching asteroid has been identified as 2020 OO1. CNEOS estimated that this asteroid measures about 98 feet wide. It is currently moving across space toward Earth at an average speed of 16,000 miles per hour.
2020 OO1 was first observed on July 20. After analyzing the asteroid’s trajectory, NASA was able to create a projection of the asteroid’s path. As indicated in NASA’s orbit diagram, 2020 OO1 follows a wide orbit around the Sun. From time to time, the asteroid intersects Earth’s orbit as it goes around the massive star.
Despite its size, 2020 OO1 is not in danger of causing an impact event on Earth. If it collides with the planet during one of its near-Earth intersections, the asteroid will most likely explode in the sky after burning up in the atmosphere.
Instead of hitting the ground, the space rock will detonate mid-air. The energy that will be produced from the asteroid’s blast will be equivalent to multiple atomic bombs. Depending on the altitude of the asteroid’s detonation, the blast could damage structures on the ground.
Fortunately, CNEOS noted that 2020 OO1 wouldn’t cause an airburst on Earth anytime soon. As indicated in the CNEOS database, the asteroid will safely fly past Earth on Monday at 10:23 a.m. EDT. During its approach, the asteroid will zip past the planet from a distance of 0.00447 astronomical units or around 416,000 miles. This is almost equivalent to twice the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
After flying past Earth, the asteroid will approach the Moon from a close distance on the same day. As indicated by NASA, 2020 OO1 will be about 0.00201 astronomical units or 187,000 miles from the lunar surface on Monday at 10:44 a.m. EDT.
2020 OO1 will not return to Earth’s vicinity until May 26, 2021. According to NASA, the asteroid will approach Earth from a safe distance of 0.27695 astronomical units or about 26 million miles during its future visit.