A three mile-wide asteroid that could end life on Earth will pass by tomorrow

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Thursday 31 August 2017 10:15
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Picture:(iStock/Getty Images)

A three mile-wide asteroid will pass relatively close to Earth tomorrow.

The asteroid, dubbed 'Florence' (named for nurse Florence Nightingale, and not the similarly meteoric GBBO contestant) will pass roughly 4.4 million miles away from Earth on Friday.

This distance is roughly 18 times the distance currently between the Moon and the Earth.

According to Nasa, asteroid Florence will make a safe passage by our small blue green planet.

Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech(Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech)

The fact this is near, relative to other heavenly bodies, is a reminder that space, 'is really big'.

Lucky for Earthlings, the trajectory of Florence will not cross the path of Earth, because if it were to hit - it would be life ending.

The asteroid hitting the Earth would not end life by crushing it, but most probably the impact would throw up a cloud of dust, causing fire to rain down on the world's forest, setting them ablaze.

This would destroy the environment, making most life on Earth unsustainable.

Nasa has determined Florence is roughly 2.7 miles in size.

For comparison, the asteroid which some believe wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, has been estimated at 6 miles in size.

The scientist managing Nasa's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies, Paul Chados said:

While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller.

Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the Nasa program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.

Florence' presence in the universe has been known since 1981, when it was discovered by Schelte 'Bobby' Bus, an astronomer at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.

The last time it came this close was 1890, and its next close shave with Earth will be the year 2500.

More: Jeremy Corbyn once supported a motion which looked forward to an asteroid destroying the planet

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