An asteroid the size of 81 bulldogs is set to zip past the Earth on Wednesday, September 6, according to NASA's asteroid tracker.
The asteroid in question has been dubbed 2021 JA5, as stated by the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
The asteroid itself is set to come after two others that are set to pass on Sunday, September 3.
How 'bout them dogs: How big is the asteroid coming toward Earth in 2023?
Asteroid 2021 JA5 is estimated by NASA to have a diameter of as much as 31 meters. To put that into perspective for the metrically-challenged (our beloved American readers), consider a more relatable unit of measurement – especially if you live in the state of Georgia. That's right, it's the bulldog.
The pride and joy of the University of Georgia and the rallying point for the Bulldog Nation, their symbol actually comes from across the pond, hailing from the breed of dog known as the English bulldog.
According to the American Kennel Club, the average bulldog is as much as 15 inches tall, or in the more internationally accepted form of measurement, 38.1 centimeters.
So calculating that into the asteroid, that means that asteroid 2021 JA5 is around 81 bulldogs in diameter.
Better never rests: What other asteroids are set to pass by soon?
Yes, there are other asteroids that will pass by the Earth before 2021 JA5. Here are the asteroids as listed by NASA JPL, each with their own US college football-inspired metric.
- Asteroid 2023 QG, with an estimated diameter of as much as 130 meters, or around 18 buckeye trees, in reference to the Buckeyes of Ohio State.
- Asteroid 2023 QH1, with an estimated diameter of around 39 meters, is about the size of almost 35 wolverines, in reference to the wolverines of the University of Michigan (go blue).
Asteroid between the hedges: Is an asteroid going to hit the Earth in 2023?
With fall almost here, 2023 is nearing its end. But despite this, there is still plenty of chances for an asteroid to hit the Earth. After all, one such asteroid already did – asteroid 2023 CX1, which impacted near France in February 2023.
It didn't cause much damage, not nearly having as much impact as a major college football win. This is because it was rather small, and while asteroid 2021 JA5 is much larger, it also wouldn't cause any severe damage, though the airburst could result in a sonic boom that would shatter windows.
But regardless, this asteroid isn't going to come near the end zone that is Earth, passing by over 5 million kilometers away.
Defense, defense: Can we stop an asteroid impact?
Yes, it may not be as good as a football team's defensive line, but scientists are working hard at building Earth's own defense against the offensive plays of asteroids.
This includes tools such as kinetic deflection, as demonstrated by NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission, which succeeded in punching the faraway asteroid Dimorphous like it was blocking a football pass.
So there's no risk of any asteroid impacts messing with the college football season – at least not now.