According to NASA, the asteroid 2011 ES4 will make its closest approach at 12:12 PM EDT (1612 GMT) this afternoon. At that time it would be about 75,400 miles (121,000 kilometers) from Earth. Because the object’s orbit is not well known, it can pass even closer than that, just 45,400 miles (73,000 km) away, NASA said.
“Will the asteroid 2011 ES4 hit Earth? No !,” NASA’s Asteroid Watch Outreach Arm Wrote on twitter. “The 2011 ES4’s close approach is ‘close’ on an astronomical scale but there is no risk of actually hitting the Earth.”
The asteroid measures somewhere between 72 feet to 161 feet in diameter (22 to 49 meters), or about the size of a commercial airliner. During its close approach, it will travel at a speed of 18,253 mph (29,376 kilometers per hour).
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Astroid 2011 ES4 was discovered by astronomers on March 2, 2011 at the University of Arizona using the Mount Lemon Survey, less than two weeks before Earth’s first known flyby.
But according to EarthSky.org, astronomers were able to observe the asteroid for only four days, and it was not directly observed. The lack of observational data means that there is some uncertainty when it comes to calculating its exact trajectory.
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Will 2011 hit # ES4 on # Earth? 🌎 No! The 2011 ES4’s close approach is “close” on an astronomical scale but there is no risk of actually hitting the Earth. Experts at #PlanetaryDefense expect Tuesday Septe 1 to pass at least 45,000 miles (792,000 football fields) safely.August 28, 2020
Although this asteroid has been known to astronomers for nearly a decade, many of the asteroids that fly by Earth run erratically until the last minute – or remain unknown until after the flyby. For example, two weeks ago the newfound asteroid 2020 QG made the near-miss on record, and it was not discovered until six hours later.
Email Haneke Weetering at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.