It appears this week is a particularly busy one in the space around our planet. NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies reports that 11 objects will be flying past Earth before Sunday. None of them is a risk that warrants worry.
The closest object is 2019 SL7, flying 571,443 kilometers (355,078 miles) past Earth. This is about 40 percent further out than the Moon. The object is between 18 and 40 meters (59 to 131 feet) in diameter, slightly larger than the object that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013.
If such an object were to fall to Earth, it would likely produce devastation at a local level, although its exact extent would depend on its density and whether or not it hits the ground. For example, the Russian bolide exploded at an altitude of 29.7 kilometers (18.5 miles), with the shock wave powerful enough to damage over 7,200 buildings, including the roof of a factory.
The furthest object to pass by Earth is 2019 SE2. At its closest approach, it will be 7.7 million kilometers (4.8 million miles) away. The object will also be one of the biggest in the group, with estimates ranging from 41 to 92 meters (135 to 302 feet). A potentially bigger object is 2019 SX5, with its size ranging from as large as 140 meters or as “small” as 62 meters (459 to 203 feet). Such an object could cause devastation at a regional level, but luckily it will get no closer than 7.15 million kilometers (4.442 million miles).
Eleven asteroids flying "close" to our planet might seem like a lot, but it's common for there to be a handful of space rocks moving about. What’s a bit more peculiar is to have a large number of these close encounters known well in advance.
Last September 21, nine near-Earth objects flew close to our planet. Yet on the day, we only knew about four of them; two of these fours were discovered just the day before. The other five objects were discovered in the days following the close pass. Such events continue to show just how much we still don’t know about the minor objects of the solar system.