NASA recently announced that a giant asteroid approximately the size of a multistory building will fly by the Earth on September 1. The asteroid is called 2011 ES4, and it has measurements of between 22 and 49 meters. NASA believes that the asteroid will pass at a minimum distance to Earth of about 120,000 kilometers.
The asteroid is moving very quickly at 8.16 kilometers per second. NASA first discovered 2011 ES4 in 2011, as its name suggests. It belongs to a group of asteroids known as “Apollo” with orbits that cross Earth’s orbit. While passing within 120,000 kilometers of the Earth doesn’t sound particularly close, that distance is closer to the Earth than the moon.
That is considered a close approach on astronomical scale, but the asteroid poses no danger of actually impacting the Earth. 2011 ES4 will safely pass by the planet by at least 45,000 miles according to reports.
This asteroid has flown by the Earth previously and could be observed from the ground for four days on its last pass. Scientists from around the world keep an eye on asteroids that had the potential of impacting the Earth. Previously we mentioned that another asteroid will pass close by the Earth in November on the eve of the 2020 presidential election.
That asteroid is known as 2018 VP1 and is much smaller than 2011 ES4. VP1 poses no threat to the planet as it’s only about seven feet in diameter. If it did impact the Earth, it would break up in the atmosphere, causing nothing more than an extremely bright shooting star. VP1 has only about a one in 240 chance of entering the Earth’s atmosphere.