We’ve had a lot of space news lately, such as the Inspiration4 launch and Elon Musk scoring a deal with NASA going to the moon. However, today we learned not just one, but two asteroids will pass by the Earth tomorrow at more than 21,000 miles per hour.
NASA reports Asteroid 1998 SD9 and Asteroid RP12 will both fly past the Earth at over 21,000 mph on October 6. Asteroid 1998 SD9 will arrive at 24,606 mph tomorrow around 3:53 p.m. ET. Classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO), it is an Aten class asteroid. This means it’s anywhere between 144 to 325 feet wide (roughly twice the Statue of Liberty’s size) and will come close to Earth. While it’s not officially “potentially hazardous,” it will be within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit. NASA first identified Asteroid 1998 SD9 on September 18, 1998, and it orbits the sun once every 215 days.
Asteroid 2021 RP12, on the other hand, will be passing by us at 1:35 a.m. Classified as an Apollo class, it is a bit smaller than 1998 SD9 at 104 to 256 feet wide. It will also come even closer, at just 1,199,535.96 miles. For reference, the moon is about 238,606 miles from Earth, meaning the asteroid will be very close.
NASA detected 2021 RP12 just last month on September 11, 2021. Like 1998 SD9, it isn’t “potentially hazardous,” but will be zooming past us at a little over 21,000 mph.
NASA Plans to Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids with New Mission
In other asteroid-related news, NASA recently announced plans to explore some a little further than those passing by the Earth soon. In fact, they plan on exploring Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids.
Outlining the plans in an official statement, NASA said the plan will launch this month on October 16. It’s a part of an initiative to help understand the planets forming billions of years ago. However, the organization also wants to learn why exactly the planets are where they are. The Lucy mission, as it’s being called, will officially begin after a rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Force Station at 5:30 a.m. ET. It will explore seven of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, often called “fossils of the solar system.”
NASA also claimed the Lucy mission will do something that hasn’t been done before. “Additionally, Lucy’s path will circle back to Earth three times for gravity assists, making it the first spacecraft ever to return to the vicinity of Earth from the outer solar system.”
Another interesting, yet not space-related, fact about the mission concerns its name’s origin. It doubles in that it originates from the human ancestor discovered in 1974, but also shares the name of the well-known Beatles song, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.