• NASA detected two asteroids, 2020 OA6 and 2020 OG3, approaching Earth on Tuesday
  • Both asteroids follow Earth-crossing orbits
  • The asteroids are not big enough to cause impact events

NASA is currently monitoring two asteroids that are moving toward Earth. According to the data gathered by the agency’s asteroid tracking system, the approaching space rocks follow Earth-intersecting natural orbits.

The two asteroids are being tracked through NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). As indicated in CNEOS’ database, the first asteroid that will approach the planet is called 2020 OA6.

2020 OA6 measures about 121 feet wide. It is flying across space toward Earth at a speed of over 23,000 miles per hour.

Trailing behind 2020 OA6 is a slightly smaller asteroid known as 2020 OG3. CNEOS indicated that this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 85 feet. It is expected to approach Earth with an average velocity of over 13,000 miles per hour.

2020 OA6 and 2020 OG3 were first observed on July 22 and 23, respectively. Through NASA’s observations, the agency was able to identify the flight path of the two asteroids and create orbit diagrams that illustrate their trajectories.

Both asteroids are known to cross Earth’s orbit from time to time. Since 2020 OA6 has a smaller orbital axis than Earth, it was classified as a member of the Aten family of space rocks.

2020 OG3, on the other hand, follows a trajectory that extends beyond that of Earth. It was labeled as an Apollo asteroid due to its Earth-crossing trajectory and wide orbital axis.

Given the sizes of the two asteroids, 2020 OA6 and 2020 OG3 are not in danger of causing impact events if they collide with Earth. Instead of hitting the ground, they will most likely detonate mid-air and produce powerful airbursts.

According to CNEOS, 2020 OA6 is expected to safely fly past Earth on Tuesday at 3:13 p.m. EDT. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.01632 astronomical units or roughly 1.5 million miles from the planet’s center.

After 2020 OA6’s flyby, Earth will be visited by 2020 OG3 on Tuesday at 5:27 p.m. EDT. CNEOS noted that the asteroid would zip past Earth at a distance of 0.01822 astronomical units or about 1.7 million miles away.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay