Another day, another asteroid flyby. Hot on the heels of Monday’s close encounter – which saw a 360-foot asteroid fling past Earth some 2.6 million miles of the planet’s surface, as covered by The Inquisitr – another space rock is getting ready to swing by our cosmic neighborhood on Tuesday.
First discovered a little over 17 years ago, the asteroid is dubbed 2002 JR100. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the rock is a frequent flier through our corner of space. The wayfaring asteroid regularly traipses through the inner solar system on its journey around the sun, stopping by Earth for a quick visit almost on a yearly basis – and sometimes even twice a year.
Such was the case in 2018, when asteroid 2002 JR100 performed two flybys of Earth – one in April and the other in December. This year, the space rock is expected to swoop past Earth only once, for a single close approach pinned down for August 27.
Judging by its orbital path and proximity to our planet, asteroid 2002 JR100 has been classified as a near-Earth object (NEO) – specifically, an Aten-type asteroid. To qualify for the NEO designation, a celestial object – be it a comet or an asteroid – needs to orbit somewhere between approximately 91 million and 121 million miles from the sun, explains NASA. This means that in their journey around the sun, NEOs can venture as far as about 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit, and as close to the planet’s surface as a few times the distance to the moon – or even closer.
At the same time, the rock’s Aten designation refers to the fact that this particular NEO has the potential of being “Earth-crossing.” Aten asteroids circle the sun on an orbit that allows them to cross that of Earth. In fact, asteroids of this class spend most of their time inside Earth’s orbit, notes NASA.
As far as NEOs go, asteroid 2002 JR100 is relatively sizeable. The object is believed to be at least 121 feet wide and can measure up to 270 feet in diameter, per NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). The size range places the asteroid somewhat on the smaller side – especially in comparison to the 560-foot rock due to buzz Earth on Wednesday morning, as reported by The Inquisitr.
However, 2002 JR100 is still pretty large compared to the 177-foot asteroid that swung by Earth on Sunday, per another report from The Inquisitr.
Currently en route toward our planet, asteroid 2002 JR100 will reach Earth’s vicinity tomorrow afternoon. The rock will make its close approach at 6:37 p.m. ET, hurtling past our planet at nearly 19,000 mph.
While the thought of a close brush with an asteroid can certainly be daunting, the cosmic encounter with asteroid 2002 JR100 will be a perfectly safe one, assures the JPL. The asteroid will harmlessly fly past us on Tuesday at a distance of 4.6 million miles of the planet’s surface.
To put that into perspective, that’s 19.31 times the distance to the moon.
The asteroid won’t be back for a few years. The rock will swing by Venus in 2020, then stay clear of the inner solar system for a while. Nevertheless, it will return in 2026 for a double flyby of Earth, popping by in early May and then again in mid-December.