A newly-discovered asteroid about the size of a house is passing close by Earth on Monday (March 28) but is no cause for alarm.
The asteroid, called 2022 FB2, is about 49 feet (15 meters) across and will approach within 93,400 miles (150,000 kilometers) when it whizzes by our planet, according to a NASA chart of asteroid flybys. For comparison, the average distance between the Earth and moon is about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers).
Astronomers first detected 2022 FB2 on Saturday (March 26), according to a NASA database.
Monday’s flyby follows on the heels of another asteroid, called 2022 FD1, that passed within just 5,400 miles (8,700 kilometers) of Earth on Thursday (March 24). That asteroid was discovered by astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky, who announced the find on Twitter. Asteroid 2022 FD1 is a tiny space rock, with the largest estimates pegging it at about 12.1 feet (3.7 meters), according to a database maintained by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
Recently, Sárneczky also discovered an asteroid called 2022 EB5, which actually hit the Earth on March 11 and burned up over the Norwegian Sea. It was discovered just two hours before impact, with astronomers quickly making follow-up observations that allowed NASA’s Scout impact hazard system to predict where and when 2022 EB5 would hit Earth’s atmosphere.
“Tiny asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous, and they impact into the atmosphere quite frequently — roughly every 10 months or so,” NASA’s Paul Chodas, the director of CNEOS at JPL, said in a statement. “But very few of these asteroids have actually been detected in space and observed extensively prior to impact, basically because they are very faint until the last few hours, and a survey telescope has to observe just the right spot of sky at the right time for one to be detected.”
Chodas and other scientists around the world regularly keep watch for what NASA calls “potentially hazardous asteroids” with orbits that bring them within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million km) of the Earth.