You may have read this week that “the world’s largest building-sized asteroid is targeting Earth at more than 56,000 miles.” Some news sites add “NASA confirms”. Most of these are technically correct, but the most important thing remains.
Asteroid 153201 (2000 WO107) will lose 2.7 million miles of Earth on Sunday. Observation of the asteroid and its size puts it between four football fields. That wide difference comes from the difficulty of determining the size of relatively small objects.
Why did this particular Near Earth Object (NOO) get so much attention that it made a dent in my head. All three of the NEOs approaching Earth on Thanksgiving Day (again safely) are more fun. This includes the asteroid 2018 RQ4, which will be 10 times closer than Sunday.
In 2005, Congress set a target for NASA to locate 90% of asteroids close to Earth at 460 feet (140 m) in size. The space agency answered the call NASA Center for Near Earth Object Studies, Tracks this and other NEOs.
The next time you see a claim about an asteroid going to Earth, you can see the data yourself The center’s latest information on upcoming approaches.
Closer approaches (CA) data show approximately 19 lunar distances (LD) over the next 60 days. Any NEO with more than one in the “CA Distance Minimum LD” column will not have the opportunity to hit the Moon, much less than the Earth.