• NASA detected two asteroids approaching Earth
  • 2020 MU1 is bigger than the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • The two near-Earth objects are Apollo asteroids

NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system has detected two space rocks that are expected to fly past Earth this weekend. According to the data collected by the agency, the two asteroids follow natural orbits that cross Earth’s path.

The two asteroids are currently being monitored through the database of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). According to CNEOS, the first asteroid that will approach Earth this weekend is called 2020 MU1.

CNEOS estimated that the approaching asteroid measures about 207 feet wide, which makes it taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The agency noted that the space rock is approaching Earth at a speed of almost 6,000 miles per hour.

Trailing behind 2020 MU1 is an asteroid identified as 2020 ML. Compared to 2020 MU1, 2020 ML is much smaller. According to CNEOS, 2020 ML has an estimated diameter of about 135 feet. This asteroid is currently moving across space toward Earth at a speed of almost 10,000 miles per hour.

According to NASA, both asteroids follow wide orbits around the Sun and have bigger orbital axes than Earth. Occasionally, these asteroids pass across the orbit of Earth around the Sun. Due to their orbital axes and Earth-intersecting trajectories, 2020 MU1 and 2020 ML have been classified as members of the Apollo family of asteroids.

CNEOS noted that 2020 MU1 is expected to safely fly past Earth on July 11 at 2:15 p.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will approach the planet from a distance of about 0.04813 astronomical units or roughly 4.5 million miles away.

2020 ML, on the other hand, will visit Earth’s vicinity on July 12 at 5:56 p.m. EDT. According to CNEOS, the asteroid will be about 0.02930 astronomical units from the planet’s center during its visit, which is equivalent to about 2.7 million miles away.

2020 MU1’s next near-Earth flyby will happen on Jan. 8 next year. As for 2020 ML, this asteroid is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until July 1, 2023. Both asteroids are expected to fly past Earth from safe distances during their future flybys.

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