A small asteroid the size of a bus will make an extremely close approach to Earth on Thursday (July 7, 2022), passing within just 56,000 miles (90,000 km) – or about 23% average distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Asteroid NF 2022

Astronomers discovered the asteroid using data from the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), a camera and telescope-based system. in Hawaii with the main purpose of detecting near-Earth objects. On July 4, researchers identified the object and calculated its approximate size and orbit, estimating that the asteroid was between 6 and 13 meters wide.

According to calculations by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the asteroid named 2022 NF is expected to pass safely through our planet.

NF 2022 is about the size of a bus that will fly across the Earth. Photo: Getty Images.

Due to its small size, NF 2022 does not fit NASA’s criteria for a “potentially hazardous asteroid”. An asteroid to be considered hazardous must be at least 140 meters long and pass Earth at a distance of 7.5 million km. Although this asteroid has reached a close enough distance, it is too small to be considered an existential threat to Earth.

NASA and other space agencies closely monitor events like these. Rarely does a real threat to the Earth appear. But besides that, some large asteroids are very dangerous if their orbits change.

In November 2021, NASA launched a DART asteroid deflector spacecraft that was supposed to crash head-on into Dimorphos in the fall of 2022. The collision won’t destroy the asteroid, but it slightly changed the asteroid’s orbital path. This could be a method to help Earth  avoid collisions if some future asteroid poses an imminent threat to our planet.

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