So far, NASA has a database of over 28,000 asteroids that it tracks down diligently, looking for little changes in their trajectories that could send them crashing towards our planet.
Helping NASA’s cause are telescopes such as the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), which scans the night skies at least once every 24 hours and can provide updates on asteroids as they approach the Earth’s orbit.
Asteroid 2015 FF
One such asteroid making a swift flyby is the 2015 FF. With an estimated diameter of between 42 and 92 feet (13 and 28 meters). This asteroid is about the size of an adult blue whale at its maximum.
The asteroid is moving at the speed of 20,512 miles an hour, which is about 27 times the speed of sound.
At its closest, the asteroid will be at a distance of 2.67 million miles (4.3 million km), which is about eight times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
According to NASA’s criteria, any object that comes within 120 million miles of the Earth is classified as a “near-Earth Object.” While those within 4.65 million miles are classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” of which 2015FF is one.
Preparing for the worst
While astronomers keep an eye out for NEOs and PHAs, asteroids can sneak up on us at times.