With a relatively close encounter of the ‘masked’ 1998 OR2 at a distance of 6.3 million kilometers (4 million miles) due on April 29, we can already look forward to more potential cosmic calamity courtesy of the two Apollo-class asteroids in the coming weeks.
Of the pair expected in May, the first is the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) 2009 XO.
Estimates based on how much light it reflects indicate the space rock is most likely the size of a football field and traveling at a speed of 45,720kph (28,409mph).
Have you heard about an asteroid close-approach happening on April 29? Asteroid 1998 OR2 poses no threat to our planet, but we can still learn a lot by studying it.
— NASA (@NASA) April 27, 2020
The rocky object orbits the Sun every 926 days and is a member of the Apollo-class of asteroids whose orbits cross that of Earth’s, thus giving the experts responsible for the planetary defense at NASA something to constantly worry about.
Thankfully, 2009 XO is due to pass our planet at a distance of about 3.3 million kilometers on May 7 – which is still considered ‘close’ by NASA’s standards.
Providing it doesn’t break up before then, the space rock is due to make a dozen near-Earth flybys in the next 200 years, the closest of which will take place on May 7, 2096, when it will come within 1.5 million kilometers of Earth (for comparison, the Moon sits 384,400 km away).
Lest anyone get too comfy in the near term, however, 2009 XO will be followed two weeks later by Asteroid 136795 (1997 BQ), which is rough twice the size of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
This behemoth is also an Apollo-class asteroid and orbits the Sun every 844 days. Traveling at a comparatively paltry 42,048kph, it’s expected to fly past the Earth on May 21 at a distance of 6.2 million kilometers.
RT with additional input from GVS News Desk.