NASA is currently monitoring two massive asteroids that are expected to fly close to Earth today. One of the asteroids that will approach the planet is as big as the Chicago Water Tower.

Details regarding the asteroids are being monitored by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). According to the agency, the first asteroid that will zip past Earth is called 2019 MJ2.

2019 MJ2 is the bigger of the two asteroids and has a diameter of 154 feet. Data collected by CNEOS indicated that the space rock is currently travelling at a speed of 20,500 miles per hour.

The asteroid is expected to approach Earth on July 2 at 5:30 am ST. It will be about 0.04616 astronomical units or roughly 4.3 million miles from Earth’s center during its flyby.

2019 MJ2 was first observed on June 29. Aside from Earth, the asteroid is also known to approach Jupiter.

Trailing behind 2019 MJ2 is asteroid 2019 MD1. This is a smaller asteroid with a diameter of 95 feet. It currently has a velocity of almost 21,200 miles per hour.

Although its smaller than 2019 MJ2, 2019 MD1 will approach the planet at a much closer distance on July 2 at 1:04 pm ST. CNEOS estimated that the asteroid will only be about 0.02631 astronomical units or 2.4 million miles from the Earth’s core one it zips past the planet.

2019 MD1 was first observed on June 22. Unfortunately, its upcoming flyby is the asteroid’s only recorded near-Earth approach.

2019 MJ2 and 2019 MD1 are classified by NASA as near-Earth objects. According to the agency, since these space objects orbit the Sun, they occasionally fly close to Earth due to gravitational factors.

“Near-Earth objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood,” NASA said in a statement.

“Composed of mostly water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter,” the agency added.

According to NASA, studying near-Earth objects is vital because they are considered as the remnant debris of the formation of the inner solar system that occurred 4.6 billion years ago.

Two Very Different Asteroids
Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA. NASA/JPL/JHUAPL