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Three Monster Asteroids Headed for Earth in June; As If 2020 Wasn't Bad Enough Already

An artist's illustration of a giant asteroid approaching Earth.

An artist's illustration of a giant asteroid approaching Earth.

Asteroids listed under NASA's near-Earth object repository give us an insight into how close the space rocks will come to us.

If the Covid-19 pandemic was not enough to spoil your 2020, the year has seen multiple incidents, including killer super cyclones to both the eastern and western coasts of India. Now, after an initial bout of asteroids flying by close to Earth, this month is set to host yet another round of giant space rocks that will fly by Earth from relatively close quarters. One look at NASA’s Near-Earth Object (CEO) browser at the Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) reveals a number of large space rocks, which will approach Earth in comparatively close range – starting from Saturday, June 6.

Asteroid 2002 NN4

The mammoth space boulder, asteroid 163348 (2002 NN4) is the first of the large asteroids that will breach the Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance (MOID) of 0.05 AU (7.48 million kilometres). According to the NEO Close Approach data table, the asteroid 2002 NN4 will make its closest approach to Earth on June 6, at 3:20AM UTC. At its closest, the asteroid will reach a distance of 0.034 AU, or 5.09 million kilometres. The asteroid 2002 NN4 is referred to as particularly deadly, since at its broadest part, it has a diameter of 570 metres – as big as the length of almost five football pitches put together, or Dubai’s Entisar Tower, slated to be the fourth tallest building in the world. During the fly-by asteroid 2002 NN4 will be at relative velocity of 40,140 kmph.

However, as of now, there is no reason to be alarmed – the distance at which asteroid 2002 NN4 is approaching Earth can be dubbed as safe. In fact, even at its closest point to Earth, it will be at a distance of over 13x the average distance between Earth and the moon.

Asteroid 2013 XA22

Following the monster 2002 NN4’s close-Earth approach, the next in line is asteroid 2013 XA22, which will breach the MOID on Monday, June 8 at 3:40PM UTC. Its approach will be significantly closer than that of the 2002 NN4, coming to 0.019 AU (2.93 million kilometres) of Earth. Asteroid 2013 XA22 is a far smaller space rock – it has peak diameter of 160 metres, and will fly by at relative velocity of 24,050 kmph.

Asteroid 2010 NY65

The asteroid 441987 (2010 NY65) has also been studied extensively due to its proximal orbit to Earth, after having been discovered a decade ago. The asteroid 2010 NY65 will cross Earth on Wednesday, June 24, at 6:44AM UTC. It will breach the MOID at 0.025 AU (3.76 million kilometres) from Earth. The 2010 NY65 asteroid falls somewhere between the 2002 NN4 and 2013 XA22 asteroids in terms of diameter, with peak size of 310 metres in its diameter. The asteroid 2010 NY65 will have the highest relative velocity of 46,400 kmph among the three large asteroids set to come the closest to Earth during June.