The asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 AG7, will make a so-called “Earth Close Approach” tomorrow. The space rock was first discovered by space radars on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2018. Last known observations on Saturday, January 12, suggest the asteroid is now barreling towards the planet. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the asteroid will fly by on Tuesday, January 12, around 10.43pm GMT (UTC).
During the flyby, the asteroid will swing by our home planet, reaching its possible closest distance to Earth.
Thankfully the asteroid is bound to just miss the planet by less than one million miles (1.5 million km).
But the asteroid’s close brush with Earth and its imposing size are a good enough reason for astronomers to pay attention.
NASA’s JPL estimates Asteroid AG7 measures somewhere in the range of 75.4ft to 167.3ft (23m to 51m) in diameter.
An asteroid this big is nearly as all The Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Nelson’s Column in London.
Even at the lower end of the size estimate, the asteroid is big enough to be considered a potential hazard.
A similarly sized asteroid injured more than 1,500 people in 2013 when it exploded over Chelyabinsk Oblast in Russia.
The so-called Chelyabinsk meteor exploded with 20 to 30 times more power than an atomic bomb.
Asteroid experts believe the meteor was only about 65.6ft-wide (20m).
A NASA report reads: “It damaged thousands of buildings and injured over a thousand people, mostly due to glass broken by the shock wave.
“According to current estimates, there are almost 10 million Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) larger than 20 meters, but they are extremely difficult to detect prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere.”
The good news is Asteroid AG7 will not get a chance to cause similar damage tomorrow when it approaches the Earth.
At it’s closest, the asteroid will reach our planet within 0.01008 astronomical units (au) or 3.92 Lunar Distances (LD).
One astronomical unit is the distance between the Earth and the Sun and measures roughly 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
Asteroid AG7 will close this distance down tomorrow to around 936,994.54 miles (1.5 million km).
This is approximately the equivalent of 3.92-times the distance from Earth to the Moon.
And on the night of the flyby, the asteroid will dash through space at breakneck speeds of 15,188.8mph or 6.79km per second.
Daily Express :: Science Feed