There’s a gigantic asteroid speeding towards the planet. And it’s giving us the whole Don’t Look Up vibe.
Now, don’t freak out too much when we tell you this. Said asteroid is the size of a football field and is supposed to get close to Earth, Jan. 11. But there’s no need for a Doomsday Clock. Let’s quantify space close. Normal human close (even with social distancing) isn’t the same as astronomically close. This asteroid is set to pass within 3.48 million miles of our planet. That still makes it an NEO. That’s a near-earth object for you non-space types.
NASA considers anything that passes within 120 million miles of us as an NEO. That’s a hefty cushion. For context, the moon is 239,000 miles away from the planet. But no one wants an asteroid hitting Earth. It’s official name is Asteroid 2013 YD48. And when NASA scientists discovered it in 2013, the massive hunk of space rock was labeled a potentially hazardous object.
NASA keeps track of all sorts of things on its Asteroid Watch Dashboard. Asteroid 2013 YD48 is just the biggest thing coming towards us to kick-off 2022. Did we say Happy New Year! There’s quite a celestial traffic jam, according to the dashboard.
Hold Up! There’s a Celestial Traffic Jam to Kick Off 2022
There’s 2021 BA. That mass is the size of a jetliner. It’s expected to pass within 2.34 million miles of us on Jan. 18. First up is 2021 YK. It’s only 38 feet wide. That’s the size of a bus. Expect it by Jan. 2. And whew, it’s going to be a close one as it flies within 118,000 miles of us. Notice that’s not in the million mile range. There’s another bus coming at us by Jan. 6. But that rock is on track for a 4.6 million mile near miss.
And then a day later, there’s a car-sized asteroid that scientists think will get 1.08 million miles from the planet.
The NASA Asteroid Dashboard is a fun database. You can look up all the junk heading our way by clicking here.
If you’re a movie buff, or just a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio or Jennifer Lawrence, you probably are a little sensitive to potential doomsday space objects. Don’t Look Up, the Netflix movie released Dec. 21, is a satire, but it’s all about a comet coming at us. Unless the U.S. government does something, the comet will kill our planet. So of course the movie is all about social media, the real media, an incompetent attention-seeking president and a greedy billionaire. What could go wrong when civilization is on the line? Spoiler alert: everything.
Now, that movie is about a wayward comet. In reality, this story is about an asteroid. What’s the difference? Maybe just semantics. An asteroid is made up of metals and other rocky material. Comets pack some ice and dust with those rocks. On impact, who cares. It’s all bad.
NASA has a plan if an asteroid gets close. No one wants a repeat of 66 million years ago, when we lost the dinosaurs. So fret not, we got this.