Five asteroids are set to make a close approach to Earth on January 6, NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies has said.
While three of the asteroids are relatively small and pose little threat to the planet even if they were headed straight for it, the other two are reportedly bigger than the Eiffel Tower.
While size certainly matters when it comes to determining whether or not an asteroid poses an imminent threat, it’s speed can greatly alter the level of risk. So, even as Asteroid 2021 AJ is the smallest among those set to zoom by Earth on Wednesday, it’s still fast enough to obliterate an entire city if its trajectory changes.
The biggest of the five asteroids, 2008 AF4, is nearly half-a-kilometre wide. If it were to crash into the planet, the resulting impact could be the equivalent of 25 megatons to 50 megatons, the same as the largest nuclear bombs in existence today.
However, NASA has confirmed that none of these asteroids — big or small — are an immediate threat to Earth. They are being tracked because they’re either closer to Earth than 7.5 million kilometres, which is 19.5 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, or because they’re bigger than 150 metres in size, the space agency has said.