A potentially dangerous asteroid called 2015 FF will hurtle past Earth today at 33,000 kilometers per hour (km/h) – about 27 times the speed of sound.
For context, the speed of sound at sea level is approximately 1,225 km/h. Grant, this is on Earth with gravity and all, and assuming the air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius.
But it doesn’t matter. That’s pretty fast, right?
Asteroid 2015 FF
The height of our friendly (or not so) space guest ranges from 13 to 28 meters.
Traveling at a speed of 33,000 km/h, it will fly by the Earth shortly after 10:00 a.m. midnight at a distance of 4.3 million kilometers, eight times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
So for now we are safe. However, asteroid 2015 FF has an absolute magnitude (H) of 26.6, which means it’s definitely getting NASA’s attention.
WATCH: Asteroid live stream
What is a “potentially hazardous” asteroid?
A potentially hazardous object (PHO) is a near-Earth object (NEO) that is large enough to cause regional damage if it collides with Earth.
Keep in mind: a “small” asteroid 35 meters in size can easily level an entire city. However, the size of the asteroid is not the most reliable factor.
Instead, scientists at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory use the more practical measure of absolute magnitude (H).
Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) fly by Earth all the time. In fact, three more will pass our side of the universe this weekend.
NASA observes more than 29,000 NEOs that pass within 48 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit. Of these, only 15,000 are classified as Apollo-class asteroids.
An Apollo-class asteroid orbits our Sun and could potentially intercept Earth’s orbit at some point in its trajectory.
Busy “Asteroid Week”
Between now and August 29, nine other asteroids of similar absolute magnitude will pass by Earth, none of which pose a threat unless they somehow change course.
Asteroid 2022 OT1 is 59 meters (about twice the size of 2015 FF) and will fly by Earth tomorrow; it has an absolute magnitude of 25.
Meanwhile, 2022 OA4 will pass on August 14; also larger than today’s visitor, with an absolute magnitude of 26.
2022 PJ1 and 2022 PW will fly by on the 16th, and this month’s largest rock, 2019 AV13, will fly past our space on August 20 at a whopping 230 meters in diameter.