KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected two asteroids approaching Earth next week
  • 2020 EF and 2020 DP4 are Earth-intersecting asteroids
  • The approaching asteroids are not big enough to cause impact events

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) is currently tracking two asteroids that are expected to approach the planet next week. According to the data gathered by the agency, the two asteroids are expected to intersect Earth’s path.

According to CNEOS, 2020 EF is expected to intersect Earth’s orbit on March 18 at 10:03 a.m. EST. During this time, the asteroid will fly past Earth from a distance of 0.04300 astronomical units. This is equivalent to around 4 million miles away.

2020 DP4, on the other hand, will cross Earth’s path on March 22 at 2:36 p.m. EST. Unlike 2020 EF, 2020 DP4 will approach Earth from a much closer distance. According to CNEOS, 2020 DP4 will zip past Earth from only 0.00901 astronomical units away, which is equivalent to around 840,000 miles away.

As indicated in CNEOS’ database, 2020 EF is currently flying across space toward Earth at a speed of over 10,000 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of about 98 feet.

After 2020 EF’s approach, Earth will then be visited by the asteroid 2020 DP4. Compared to 2020 EF, 2020 DP4 is much bigger and traveling at a faster velocity.

According to CNEOS, this asteroid measures about 180 feet wide, making it almost as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. The agency noted that the asteroid would approach Earth at a speed of over 18,000 miles per hour.

2020 EF is classified as an Aten asteroid while 2020 DP4 belongs to the Apollo family of space rocks. Although the two asteroids have different classifications, they are known to intersect Earth’s orbit as the planet makes its way around the Sun. The main difference between the two is Apollo asteroids generally follow wider orbits than their Aten counterparts. Asteroid Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Photo: Pixabay