Four asteroids to fly past Earth in the end of August - NASA

The four asteroids in question, designated 2022 QP3, 2022 QX4, 2017 BU and 2022 QX1, are all relatively small, with estimated sizes ranging from 24 meters at minimum to 76 meters at maximum.

 An asteroid is seen near Earth in this artistic illustration. (photo credit: PIXABAY)
An asteroid is seen near Earth in this artistic illustration.
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Four asteroids are set to pass by the Earth in the last days of August as summer comes to an end, according to NASA's asteroid tracker.

Which asteroid is coming towards Earth?

The four asteroids in question, designated 2022 QP3, 2022 QX4, 2017 BU and 2022 QX1, are all relatively small, with estimated sizes ranging from 24 meters at minimum to 76 meters at maximum.

How big is the asteroid coming towards Earth in 2022?

Luckily, the asteroids are not very big, and they each range in size.

The first one, asteroid 2022 QP3, set to pass by Earth on August 28, has a width ranging between 25 meters and 55 meters, according to the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

 Cinderella Castle in Disney World, Florida (Illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Cinderella Castle in Disney World, Florida (Illustrative). (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

For context, 55 meters is around the same height as the Cinderella Castle in Disney World, Florida.

Asteroid 2022 QP3 is also heading near Earth at a speed of 7.93 kilometers per second, which is equal to 28,548 kilometers per hour, or just over 23 times the speed of sound.

Next on the list is asteroid 2022 QX4, is set to pass by Earth on August 29. This asteroid has a maximum estimated width of 73 meters. That's around the size of a giant sequoia tree.

Asteroid 2022 QX4 is also flying at a speed of approximately 8.82 kilometers per second, or 31,752 kilometers per hour. This is equivalent to 25.7 times the speed of sound.

After that, we have asteroid 2017 BU, also set to come on August 29. This asteroid is the slowest of the bunch and is also on the smaller side, with a maximum diameter estimated at 54 meters.

Lastly is the asteroid 2022 QX1, set to arrive on August 31. This asteroid is around the same size as asteroid 2022 QX4, with a maximum estimated diameter of 76 meters.

But this asteroid is also by far the fastest of the lot, barreling towards the Earth's orbit at a speed of approximately 21.15 kilometers per second, or 76,140 kilometers per hour. That's the equivalent of around 61.66 times the speed of sound.

Asteroid illustrative (credit: Wikimedia Commons)Asteroid illustrative (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Will an asteroid hit Earth in 2022?

If an asteroid does hit the Earth in 2022, it won't be any of these, and even if they did impact, it wouldn't be too bad.

Each asteroid is traveling considerably far away from the Earth. Asteroid 2022 QX4 is the one skidding the closest, and it is still estimated to be at a minimum distance of 1.8 million kilometers away.

To put that distance in context, the Moon tends to orbit the Earth at a distance of around 384,000 kilometers away. 

Now, on a cosmic scale, these asteroids are still relatively close, but still far and won't hit us. 

Of course, if an asteroid did hit the Earth, it could be very bad.

According to research from the Davidson Institute of Science, the educational arm of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science, an asteroid over 140 meters in diameter would release an amount of energy at least a thousand times greater than that released by the first atomic bomb if it impacted Earth.

Something even larger – over 300 meters wide like the Apophis asteroid – could destroy an entire continent. An asteroid over a kilometer in width – like asteroid 138971 (2001 CB21), which flew past the Earth in early March 2022 – could trigger a worldwide cataclysm.

But at their sizes, these three asteroids will likely not cause much damage if it impacts. It will likely cause a large and loud explosion upon atmospheric entry, but any actual damage would be minimal, at best.

But as for if an asteroid will impact the Earth in 2022, the answer is certainly yes. Or rather, yes, it already happened.

In mid-March, the small asteroid 2022 EB5, which was around half the size of a giraffe, actually hit the Earth — though it caused no damage.

When is the next asteroid predicted to hit the Earth?

Not for a long time, at the very least. NASA has declared the Earth free of risk of any catastrophic asteroid impacts for the next century.

What is the next asteroid to hit Earth?

We don't know for sure, but there are some candidates.

Currently, one of the most dangerous asteroids for Earth is the asteroid Bennu, a massive 500-meter-wide behemoth of an asteroid. If this asteroid impacted the Earth, the result would be catastrophic - but as far as NASA is aware, this won't be for a long time, if ever.

NASA's DART Mission heads for an asteroid, from behind the NEXT–C ion engine (illustrative). (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)NASA's DART Mission heads for an asteroid, from behind the NEXT–C ion engine (illustrative). (credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL)
Do we have any way to stop an asteroid from hitting the Earth?

Not yet, but scientists working on it.

The field of planetary defense is specifically organized to do things like that, and scientists at NASA and across the world are hard at work trying to keep the Earth safe.

Currently, the most promising of these efforts is NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which will see a small specially-designed spacecraft slam into an asteroid to see if it can possibly alter its orbit ever so slightly. But time will tell if this will prove effective.