NASA is tracking 11 asteroids that will skim past our globe this Halloween.
The US space agency has mentioned it is discovering about 30 new “near earth objects” a week, and keeping a close eye on them as they cosmically brush past us.
7 of the Halloween asteroids were found only this year, indicating we have been unaware to them hurtling past us over thousands of years.
3 of the space rocks are monsters of between 660 meters and 900 meters in length, large enough to wipe out life in much of a continent if they made a direct strike.
3 others, from 230 to 410 meters long, would be probably be devastating to a whole country should they hit, with the remaining five, from just 18 meters to 110 meters, large enough to eliminate or significantly impact a city the size of London.
The closes pass on Monday will be the newly discovered asteroid 2016 UR36, which NASA guesses is between eight and 18 meters long.
It is due to pass just beyond the moon at 310,000 miles.
But cosmically speaking, this inside a whisker.
NASA classes any object passing within a distance of 30 million miles of Earth as a “near earth object”, due to the fact orbits are approximated and it is not always specified about the path they will take.
The biggest, which is arriving in relatively close is 2003 YT1, which is 1.7km long, large enough to endanger all life on Earth.
It passes at 3.2 million miles, just 13.5 times the distance from Earth to our moon.
NASA published yesterday its database of near-Earth asteroids currently tops 15,000.
The newest discovery was 2016 TB57, found on October 13 by observers at the Mount Lemmon Survey, an element of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Arizona.
At up to 36 meters long, it is one of the 11 Halloween asteroids, and will pass us at 1.2 million miles, around 5 times the distance to the moon.
A NASA spokesman stated: “It will safely pass Earth.
“The 15,000 milestone is a 50 percent increase in the number of known NEAs since 2013, when discoveries reached 10,000 in August of that year.”
Surveys financed by NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program (NEOs comprise of both asteroids and comets) account for more than 95 % of discoveries up to now.
A near-Earth asteroid is outlined as one whose orbit periodically brings it around approximately 1.3 times Earth’s average distance to the sun – that is around 121 million miles of the sun.
This distance furthermore then brings the asteroid around roughly 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
Observers have by now discovered more than 90 % of the approximated population of the huge, larger than 600 metre NEOs, but only a fraction of those smaller than this approximated to be out there have been discovered.
Kelly Fast, NASA’s NEO Observations Program Manager, stated: “The rising rate of discovery is due to dedicated NEO surveys and upgraded telescopes coming online in recent years.
“But while we’re making great progress, we still have a long way to go.”
It is approximated by astronomers that only about 27 % of the NEAs that are 140 meters and bigger have been discovered to date.
US Congress focused NASA to discover over 90 % of objects this size and larger by the end of 2020.
The NEO Observations Program is a main element of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which is accountable for finding, tracking and characterising possibly hazardous NEOs, providing warnings about probable impacts, and coordinating US government planning for response to an real impact threat.
Lindley Johnson, NASA Planetary Defense Officer, stated: “While no known NEO currently poses a risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years, we’ve found mostly the larger asteroids, and we have a lot more of the smaller but still potentially hazardous ones to find.”
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