As nations across the globe just said ‘good riddance’ to 2020, NASA has warned that a monstrous 220-meter asteroid is headed Earth’s way early in the new year.
Before that, this year’s final asteroid, 2020 YB4, measuring just 36 meters in diameter or roughly half the wingspan of a 747, passed by the Earth shortly after 6am UTC at a distance of 6.1 million kilometers. That means, in terms of the threat posed by space rocks at least, the planet made it out of 2020 somewhat intact.
However, in the first days of January, three additional, small Near Earth Objects (NEOs) will grace the Earth with their presence, for a brief time.
Just two days into 2021, the 15-meter asteroid 2019 YB4 will fly by at a safe distance of 6.4 million kilometers. The very next day, it will be followed up by two more chunks of cosmic debris in the form of the 15-meter 2020 YA1 and the 21-meter 2020 YP4, which will pass by at 1.5 and 2.1 million kilometers respectively.
But the biggie will come on January 3, as the relatively mountainous 2003 AF23, measuring an impressive 220m in diameter or about as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge is tall, will shoot past at 6.9 million kilometers.