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6 Asteroids Buzz Earth Within a 2-Year Span and Scientists Are Psyched



Switch your seatbelts, Earthlings – at the end of 2020, they will offer an incredible escape of nearby asteroids. threat to life on Earth.

Six flybys of relatively large asteroids will take place over two years, starting in June 2027. International Planetary Defense Conference Academy of Aviation Today (April 30) at College Park, Maryland, Lance Benner, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory radar specialist in California, has gone through the scientific opportunities offered by the fly-through series.

"The six asteroids that are about to arrive will begin in the summer of 2027," Benner said. "And then it will be a bang, a bang, a bang – not literally a bang, a bang, a bang, but there will be a lot of them in very short order, and that should be a very interesting two years like those objects approaches. "

None of these asteroids are on the road that will intersect with Earth's orbit.

Related: As of 2017 Asteroid Flyby in 2017 helps NASA Defend Earth

But they're getting close enough to see the scientists, Benner said. (In fact, three will be visible through a telescope and one of them, called Apophis, will be visible to the naked eye.)

The largest asteroid lot will be the first to swing. The name 1990 MU is 2.8 km wide. Two asteroids in the series approach Earth to orbit the moon. During approaches Of all the six cosmic rocks, scientists will be able to gather detailed asteroid radar images, allowing researchers a good sense of shape and rotation speed for these objects.

In a few cases, scientists will explore these objects for the third time, giving them enough data to begin analyzing the small changes in speed that occur when sunlight warms the asteroid unevenly.

And because the scientists are aware of the bonanza so far ahead, the spacecraft could get fun. Current mission, like NASA OSIRIS-REx and Japan Hayabusa2, showed that the machines are now able to approach the space rocks. Future such missions could potentially capture small changes on the surface of the asteroid due to gravity gravity gravity during its flyby.

The close approach comes on a stable two-year clip starting in 2027, closing with Apophis. The flyby density could even offer a space trajectory trajectory that could carry tools that would exceed the number of these asteroids in the same mission, Benner said.

"I think it will attract considerable scientific interests – public interest, potentially interested in people planning space missions," he said.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow it @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and further Facebook.


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