x
Breaking News
More () »

Houston's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Houston, Texas | KHOU.com

Asteroid to pass Earth at less than half the distance to the moon

It's one of four Near Earth Object asteroids to pay our planet a visit Tuesday.

Four asteroids zooming through our solar system are going to pass close enough to Earth Tuesday that they have the attention of NASA astronomers. They are considered Near Earth Objects -- pulled by the gravity of other planets into an orbit which brings them close to Earth.

The first, named 2019 SM8, will make its closest pass at 9:56 a.m. EDT at 98,500 miles away. That's less than half the distance between the Earth and the moon (239,000 miles). NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) says SM8 is about 28 feet in diameter and should pass by at approximately 31,500 mph.

The second is 2019 SE8. Its closest approach will be at 11:12 a.m. EDT at a distance of 665,000 miles and traveling about 51,000 miles per hour. SE8 is about 82 feet in diameter.

The third one is 2018 FK5, which will pass at just over 3 million miles away at 6:56 p.m. EDT. The 42-foot-diameter rock will be traveling at about 23,400 mph. 

The last one is 2019 SD8, which will pass by at 10:29 p.m. EDT. Traveling at 24,200 mph, it will come within 330,000 miles of Earth. SD8 is 65 feet in diameter.

RELATED: Asteroid dust could fix global warming, scientists say

RELATED: Mission to deflect asteroid is set for 2021 launch

All of these asteroids are called Apollo asteroids.They orbit the sun and occasionally cross Earth's orbital path. That means these asteroids could one day slam into Earth's atmosphere, but that won't happen Tuesday.

Even if they did collide with the atmosphere, they are relatively small and would likely burn up and explode during entry.

Six more Near Earth Object asteroids are expected to pass by before the end of the week.