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A Giant Asteroid, Larger Than Empire State Building, Is Headed Toward Earth This Week

A Giant Asteroid, Larger Than Empire State Building, Is Headed Toward Earth This Week

As if 2020 couldn't get any worse.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced that they've begun tracking a giant asteroid that is touted to be taller than the Empire State Building. It has dubbed the rock 163348 (2002 NN4), and it is expected to pass by on Saturday, June 6. Local 12 reports that the size of the asteroid is estimated to be between 250m and 570m (820ft and 1870ft) – so it could be taller than the Empire State Building (443m or 1453ft) and the London Eye (135m or 443ft) combined. According to NASA, this asteroid has been classified as an Aten asteroid which is a space rock that follows a very wide orbit around the Sun. While most scientists do not believe that the asteroid will actually collide with the Earth, it will still be carefully monitored in case it enters the Earth's atmosphere by chance. 



 

 



 

 

Asteroid 163348 (2002 NN4) is expected to whoosh past Earth at 8.20 a.m. BST this weekend.  It will be traveling at the speed of 5.2 kilometers a second, or 3.1 miles a second which is 11,200 miles per hour. It will be approaching Earth at a distance of 13.25 Lunar Distance or 0.03425 astronomical units from the Sun, Daily Star reports.



 

 

This is roughly about 3.2 million miles away from the Earth, and you might wonder, "wow that's quite far away" but according to NASA, despite the distance, they deem that this space rock as a Near-Earth Object (NEOs). According to NASA, NEO is a term used to describe "comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood".

 

All asteroids within a 1.3 astronomical unit radius are classified as NEOs. The space administration also estimates that after the asteroid clears its course and continues its orbit it might visit Earth again in 2024.  When the space rock does fly past, it is expected that it will miss the planet by over 3-million miles. There are over 2,000 individual asteroids, comets, and other objects being tracked by astronomers worldwide. Many scientists have been observing them for a long time now and their main concern is to discover if there are any threats to Earth.  



 

 

 According to the Daily Star, "Earth hasn't seen an asteroid of apocalyptic scale since the space rock which wiped out the dinosaurs 66million years ago."

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