NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) are closely monitoring two asteroids that are expected to fly near Earth today. Due to the frequency of near-collisions with asteroids, NASA has amped up its efforts in protecting Earth from a disastrous hit.

Dubbed as 2019 KY and 2019 KS, the two asteroids are scheduled to approach Earth on June 4. The former is expected to make a flyby on June 4 at 11:38 am EST, while the latter will be visiting Earth’s surroundings on the same day at 7:42 pm EST.

2019 KY has a maximum diameter of 32 meters and is currently traveling at a speed of around 13,800 miles per hour. Once it flies by Earth, the asteroid will be within a distance of 0.01409 astronomical units or roughly 1.3 million miles.

2019 KS, on the other hand, is significantly larger and traveling faster than 2019 KY. This asteroid has a diameter of about 69 meters (226 feet). When it zips past Earth, it will have a speed of around 39,000 miles per hour. Unlike 2019 KY, 2019 KS will be flying farther from Earth at a distance of 0.03130 astronomical units or around 2.9 million miles.

According to CNEOS’s data, the arrival of 2019 KY will mark its closest encounter with Earth. Based on the agency’s database, the average nominal distance of the asteroid from the planet when it passed by in the previous years ranged from 0.3 to 0.4 astronomical units.

The increasing number of asteroids that are on near-collision paths with Earth certainly sounds terrifying, but thankfully, NASA has developed a mission with the sole purpose of defending the planet from a catastrophic impact event.

Named as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the mission involves launching a spacecraft and crashing it into an asteroid or other cosmic objects that might hit Earth. NASA theorized that colliding the spacecraft into an asteroid can throw it off its path and change its momentum.

DART is expected to launch in July 2021 through the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It will be tested against the Didymos asteroid system once it flies near Earth sometime in September 2022.

DART from NASA
Infographic outlining the DART mission from NASA. NASA
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