A series of asteroids will pass by Earth at a safe distance between December 24 and 29, including a meteorite with a diameter of 260 meters.
The first asteroid, 2016 TR54, is expected to pass close to Earth on December 24, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). This meteorite will come closest to Earth at 13:30 on December 24, Hanoi time. The closest distance between 2016 TR54 and Earth is 6.4 million km, nearly 17 times the distance from Earth to the Moon.
CNEOS estimates the asteroid to be 100 – 230 m in diameter based on observations. During this approach, the object moved at a speed of 55,844 km/h.
The second asteroid that passed by Earth in late December was named 2018 AH, slightly smaller than 2016 TR54. CNEOS estimated the object to be 84 – 190 m wide. 2018 AH will come closest to Earth at 9:40 pm on December 27, at a distance of 1,002,299 km, twice the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
However, the estimated flight path of 2018 AH has a lower probability than 2016 TR54, it is likely that it will not fly closer than 4.5 million km from Earth. CNEOS data shows the object moving at 45,705 km/h.
The last of the three asteroids, 2017 AE3, is most likely the largest with a diameter of 120 – 260 m. In the upper end of the estimate, 2017 AE3 would be slightly taller than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA, if the two objects were placed side by side.
2017 AE3 will fly closest to Earth at 8:54 am on December 29, at a distance of 3 million km. The object moves at a speed of about 68,558 km/h, the fastest of the three asteroids.
CNEOS currently tracks about 26,000 near-Earth asteroids (NEOs), 1,000 of which are larger than 1 km in diameter, but they are less likely to crash into Earth. According to CNEOS, the threat from these space objects is actually much lower than the threat from a car accident or disease. Although the likelihood of a collision is extremely low, NASA has been actively monitoring NEO over the years, aiming to predict any potential impact on Earth before it happens.