The asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 CB2, is barreling towards a so-called “Earth Close Approach”. NASA’s scientists have pinpointed the asteroid’s passage down to 1.20am GMT (UTC) on Sunday, February 10. The incredible flyby comes just five days after NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) first observed the rock on February 2. As it zips by, Asteroid CB2 will breach speeds of nearly 29,125mph or 13.02km per second.
This means the asteroid is flying through space at breakneck speeds nearly 38-times the speed of sound.
But even as this happens, Earth can rest assured the space rock will not slam into the planet at full speed.
NASA’s JPL scientists estimate Asteroid CB2 will near-miss the Earth by almost 650,000 miles (1.04 million miles).
Asteroid CB2 is a so-called “Near-Earth Object” (NEO), which is an asteroid or comet on an orbital path crisscrossing that of Earth’s.
When NEOs traverse the void of the solar system, they occasionally come close to the Earth and the Sun.
NASA explained: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
As of February 5, 2019, NASA has discovered a total of 19,585 Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs).
In human terms, this might seem far enough of a passage for comfort, but on the cosmic scale of distances, CB2’s passage is extremely close.
More than 8,500 of these space rocks measure more 460ft (140m) in diameter – these are additionally dubbed “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids”.
Another 897 of the 19,000 asteroids measure a cataclysmic 3,289ft (one kilometre) or more across.
Thankfully, Asteroid CB2 is a much smaller space rock estimated to be in the range of 59ft to 127.9ft (18m to 39m) in diameter.
An asteroid this big is approximately 19-times as long as a Queen Size bed and 9.5-times the length of a Volkswagen Beetle car.
It would take about four-and-a-half London double-decker buses in a row to match the asteroid.
Hundreds of tonnes of space dust and debris slams into the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis but asteroids this big rarely strike the Earth.
A car-sized asteroid enter’s hits the Earth about once a year but burns up in an impressive fireball before it reaches the ground.
“NASA said: “Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters, about 82 feet, will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and cause little or no damage.
“If a rocky meteoroid larger than 25 meters but smaller than one kilometre – a little more than 1/2 mile – were to hit Earth, it would likely cause local damage to the impact area.”
Daily Express :: Science Feed