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Two skyscraper-sized asteroids are approaching Earth this weekend.

Two skyscraper-sized asteroids are approaching Earth this weekend, one of which will make its closest approach to Earth on Friday (July 29) and the second will sweep past on Saturday (July 30).

The first asteroid, named 2016 CZ31, will fly by around 1900 ET (2300 GMT) on Friday, moving at 34,560 miles per hour (55,618 km/h, according to NASA). (will open in a new tab).

Astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about 400 feet (122 meters) wide at its widest point, making it about the width of a 40-story building. The asteroid safely passes our planet, passing about 1,740,000 miles (2,800,000 kilometers) from Earth, which is more than seven times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. According to NASA, this space rock approaches Earth every few years, with the next one scheduled for January 2028.

On the subject: Why are asteroids and comets such a strange shape? (will open in a new tab)

On Saturday, a second, even larger asteroid will fly past our planet, although at a greater distance from Earth. This asteroid, named 2013 CU83, is approximately 600 feet (183 m) in diameter at its widest point and will pass at a distance of about 4,320,000 miles (6,960,000 km) from Earth, about 18 times the average distance between Earth and Moon.

This colossal space rock will be traveling at 13,153 miles per hour (21,168 km/h) when it approaches Earth at 19:37 ET (23:37 GMT).

Both of these close encounters are much further away than asteroid 2022 NF. (will open in a new tab)which was within 56,000 miles (90,000 km) – or about 23% of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon – on July 7.

NASA and other space agencies are closely monitoring thousands of similar near-Earth objects. Even if the asteroid’s trajectory is millions of miles from our planet, there is an extremely small chance that the asteroid’s orbit may shift slightly after interacting with the gravity of a larger object such as a planet; even such a tiny shift could potentially lead to a collision of an asteroid with the Earth during a future flyby.

So the space agencies take planetary defense very seriously. In November 2021, NASA launched an asteroid-deflecting spacecraft called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) that will crash directly into the 525-foot-wide (160 m) asteroid Dimorphos in the fall. (will open in a new tab) 2022. The collision will not destroy the asteroid, but it could change the space rock’s orbital path. (will open in a new tab) a bit, Live Science previously reported. The mission will help test the viability of an asteroid deflection if some future asteroid poses an immediate danger to our planet.

Originally published on Live Science.

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