KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected two asteroids that are approaching Earth on Thursday
  • One of the asteroids is as big as a building
  • Both asteroids follow Earth-crossing natural orbits

NASA has detected two asteroids that are expected to fly past Earth on Thursday (May 14). Based on the data collected by the agency, one of the approaching asteroids is as big as a building.

The incoming asteroids are currently being monitored by NASA through its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). As noted by CNEOS, the first asteroid that will visit Earth’s vicinity on Thursday has been identified as 2020 JK.

This asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 308 feet and is currently traveling across space toward Earth at a speed of over 45,000 miles per hour.

2020 JK was first observed on May 2. According to NASA’s projections, the asteroid follows an elongated trajectory around the Sun that extends beyond the orbit of Mars. As it makes its way across the Solar System, 2020 JK intersects the orbits of various planets such as Venus, Earth and Mars.

Due to its Earth-crossing orbit, 2020 JK was classified as an Apollo asteroid.

According to CNEOS, 2020 JK will fly past Earth at 3:26 a.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.03801 astronomical units or roughly 3.5 million miles away.

The second asteroid that’s expected to approach Earth on Thursday is known as 2020 HS6. As noted by CNEOS, 2020 HS6 is a massive asteroid that measures about 722 feet wide, making it almost as tall as the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This asteroid is currently flying across space at a speed of almost 53,000 miles per hour.

Like 2020 JK, 2020 HS6 also follows an elongated orbit that extends beyond the path of Mars. It is also classified as an Apollo asteroid due to its Earth-crossing natural orbit. Aside from Earth, 2020 HS6 is also known to cross the paths of Mars, Venus and Mercury as it travels around the Sun.

CNEOS noted that 2020 HS6 is expected to safely approach Earth at 7:42 a.m. EDT. During its approach, the asteroid will be 0.04108 astronomical units or roughly 3.8 million miles from the planet’s center.

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