Home Science NASA tracking huge 'near-Earth' asteroid twice as big as Great Pyramid of...

NASA tracking huge 'near-Earth' asteroid twice as big as Great Pyramid of Giza

The space rock has been classed as a Near-Earth Object (NEO) by the organisation. Any comet or asteroid within 1.3 astronomical units from the Sun fits into this category meaning it will not harm human life.

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According to reports, the asteroid is believed to be between 120m and 270m wide and between 394ft and 886ft tall.

The size of the gigantic space rock is almost twice as big as the iconic Egyptian landmark.

The asteroid will reportedly pass Earth at around 8am EST on September 6.

According to NASA, a 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 neighbourhood”.

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NASA tracking giant asteroid (Image: Getty)

The asteroid twice the size of Great Pyramid (Image: Getty)

In relation to NEOs, the organisation says: “As they orbit the Sun, NEOs 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.”

In this particular case, NASA has ruled out any probability of impact with Earth and does not expect this to change.

There are, however, processes by which asteroids and comets can be shifted from their orbits towards us.

READ MORE: Asteroid news: Space rock study reveals origin of Earth’s water 

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NASA tracking giant asteroid (Image: NASA)

NASA said: “Occasionally, asteroids’ orbital paths are influenced by the gravitational tug of planets, which cause their paths to alter.

“Scientists believe stray asteroids or fragments from earlier collisions have slammed into Earth in the past, playing a major role in the evolution of our planet.”

A force known as the Yarkovsky effect can also cause an asteroid to veer off-course.

The effect occurs when a space rock is heated in direct sunlight and cools down to release radiation from its surface.

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What is a close approach? (Image: Express)

NASA said: “This radiation exerts a force on the asteroid, acting as a sort of mini-thruster that can slowly change the asteroid’s direction over time.”

There is also the possibility of asteroids or fragmented asteroids, being redirected towards us after colliding with other space rocks.

According to Deborah Byrd, founder of EarthSky, one such collision could have resulted in the death of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

She said: “One fragment of that ancient smashup might have struck Earth 65 million years ago, triggering a mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, according to astronomers.”

The Great Pyramid of Giza (Image: Getty)

But the asteroids listed on NASA’s database of “Earth close approaches” are deemed safe and NASA’s tracking systems have ruled out all possibility of danger.

NASA said: “Because of the ongoing search efforts to find nearly all the large NEOs, objects will occasionally be found to be on very close Earth approaching trajectories.

“Great care must then be taken to verify any Earth collision predictions that are made.

The asteroid will pass Earth in September (Image: Getty)

“Given the extremely unlikely nature of such a collision, almost all of these predictions will turn out to be false alarms.

“However, if an object is verified to be on an Earth colliding trajectory, it seems likely that this collision possibility will be known several years prior to the actual event.”

Astronomers are believed to be currently tracking nearly 2,000 asteroids, comets and other objects.

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