Hot on the heels of yesterday’s close brush with asteroid 2019 KT, two other space rocks are headed for Earth on another close – but perfectly safe – encounter tomorrow. Dubbed 2019 KV and 2019 KH, the two asteroids are expected to each make a so-called “close Earth approach” in the morning and afternoon, respectively.
While these three space rocks all have very similar names, they couldn’t be more different from one another. For one thing, tomorrow’s celestial visitors belong to a different asteroid type than 2019 KT. At the same time, the two space rocks will buzz planet Earth from a much greater distance, per data from NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
The main thing that the three asteroids have in common is that they were all discovered last week, and were all classified as near-Earth objects.
“Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood,” explains CNEOS.
As they zip around the sun, these objects can occasionally approach planet Earth. However, these encounters – all of them described as “close Earth approaches” by astronomers – vary greatly in terms of how close to the planet’s surface they occur. For instance, some NEOs skim Earth from very close by, sometimes even slipping between our planet and the moon. Such was the case of Apollo-type asteroid 2019 KT, which darted past Earth on Monday night, as reported yesterday by The Inquisitr.
While they are also classified as NEOs, tomorrow’s celestial visitors won’t come anywhere as close. The two space rocks are known as Amor asteroids, which means that their orbits can approach that of Earth’s, but don’t actually cross it, like Apollo and Aten asteroids do. One recent example of an Aten asteroid was the nearly mile-wide space rock that passed by Earth on May 25, per a previous report from The Inquisitr.
The first asteroid of the pair to traipse though our corner of space will be asteroid 2019 KV. The space rock is estimated to measure between 49 feet and 108 feet in diameter, and will buzz by planet Earth in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
According to data released yesterday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the asteroid will make its close approach at 8:27 a.m. EST. Cruising through space at 12,500 mph, the object will safely pass by Earth at a distance of 1.67 million miles from our planet’s surface. To put that into perspective, at its closest point to Earth, the space rock will be seven times more distant than the moon.
Asteroid 2019 KV will return for another visit in about two years. On April 26, 2021, the space rock will come around for another close encounter — one that will only carry it within 21.8 million miles of Earth.
A few short hours after asteroid 2019 KV, another Aten-type space rock will make its way through Earth’s cosmic neighborhood. By comparison to its predecessor, asteroid 2019 KH is 2.6 times larger, nearly twice as fast, and will pass Earth from a little over twice the distance.
Estimated to be somewhere between 128 feet and 288 feet wide, the object will swoop in for its close approach at 2:26 p.m. EST. The asteroid will hurtle past Earth at speeds of nearly 22,000 mph, creeping in at about 3.65 million miles away from Earth’s surface. That’s 15.31 times the distance to the moon.
Just like 2019 KV, asteroid 2019 KH will also double back for another encounter in the near future, per the JPL. Its next flyby is expected to occur on May 10, 2022, when the space rock will zoom past Earth at a staggering distance of 30.48 million miles.