Science & Tech

Asteroid the size of the Empire State Building to make 'close approach' to Earth this week

Asteroid the size of the Empire State Building to make 'close approach' to Earth this week
Warning System Tracks Asteroid Hours Before Entering Earth's Atmosphere

An enormous asteroid measuring the same size as the Empire State Building will fly past Earth this week with speeds up to 30,000 mph (50,000 kph).

An asteroid is a small body that orbits the sun – generally within the main asteroid belt. They tend to be made up of "rocky, dusty and metallic materials".

NASA's Near-Earth Object database has predicted the 450-metre rock to fly by 3.1 million miles away. The space agency is currently monitoring its activity on its Asteroid Watch Dashboard.

“The dashboard displays the next five Earth approaches to within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometres or 19.5 times the distance to the moon); an object larger than about 150 metres that can approach the Earth to within this distance is termed a potentially hazardous object," they explained.

“The average distance between Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometres).”

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NASA initially raised concerns that a 1,100ft asteroid, Apophis, would smash into the planet in the future but later ruled this out.

"A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility anymore, and our calculations don't show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years," Davide Farnocchia from NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies said.

"With the support of recent optical observations and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in Apophis' orbit has collapsed from hundreds of kilometres to just a handful of kilometres when projected to 2029.

"This greatly improved knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more certainty of its future motion, so we can now remove Apophis from the risk list."

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