Thanksgiving 2021 Will See Five ‘Close Approach’ Asteroids Hurtle Past Earth

by Liz Holland

Last year we had lockdown, this year we have space rocks. NASA says there are 5 “close approach” asteroids flying by earth this Thanksgiving 2021.

Flying by This Thanksgiving

With the smallest expected asteroid estimated to be around 75 feet, asteroid 2021 VF1, there’s no reason to worry. Space experts are expecting this asteroid to fly by earth following asteroid VF4, which professionals are estimating to be around 102 feet. NASA estimates this asteroid will come within just over 500k miles from Earth. 

Among this group of 5 asteroids to fly past Earth this Thanksgiving, is asteroid WB105. Which NASA is estimating to be around 394 feet. For scale, the Statue of Liberty comes in at 305 feet. The space organization estimates this asteroid will fly by near-Earth at 42,000 mph, but over 3 million miles away. While that seems far, it is close for space objects by NASA’s standard.

While this asteroid is sizable, it is important to note that NASA qualifies anything passing earth within 120 million miles as a NEO, or near-earth object. What this means is that, even though these asteroids are flying close to our planet by NASA’s standards, it does not mean that they pose any sort of danger for life on our planet. However, it also does not mean they are 100% safe.

If a fast-moving space object comes within 4.65 million miles of earth, it can be considered a potential hazard. The somewhat unpredictable nature of these objects and their trajectories can make it hard to make that call for certain. Thankfully, current technology allows for the monitoring of flying space objects in a way that is more accurate than older methods. 

Crash Course

NASA continues to look for solutions to prevent a deadly situation from occurring due to flying space objects. In an effort to pursue preventative action, the space organization launched a rocket as part of a new mission yesterday. 

The mission goes by the name Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART. Yesterday the spacecraft launched in an effort to gather data on how asteroids will react if intentionally crashed into. The DART mission spacecraft was sent to crash into an asteroid at 15,000 miles per hour. The crash should determine if the slam could nudge the trajectory of the asteroid in a new direction. If successful, results from this mission could aid space organizations in having a plan of action for if an asteroid ever needs to be diverted from earth to minimize catastrophe. 

Although this technology could save mankind in the future, for today you can enjoy your turkey and stuffing in peace knowing that the likelihood of today’s close-approach asteroids causing us any harm is nearly zero. 

If keeping an eye on today’s asteroids interests you, you can check out the asteroid watch on NASA’s website.