NASA warns huge asteroid bigger than London Eye shooting towards Earth's orbit

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NASA has warned a space rock one and a half times larger than the London Eye is shooting towards Earth’s orbit next week.

The asteroid is set to make a close approach to planet Earth and has been branded as “potentially hazardous” by the US-based experts.

NASA scientists have since given the celestial rock the name Asteroid 2020ND.

The asteroid measures in at 170m tall and is make its closes approach to Earth next Friday, July 24.

It will come within just 0.034 astronomical units (AU) of our planet, NASA has warned.

The space agency said: “Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.

NASA warns huge asteroid bigger than London Eye shooting towards Earth's orbit
The asteroid is one and a half times larger than the London Eye

“Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au or less are considered PHAs.”

NASA said on its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) website: “NEOs are 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.

Asteroids regularly pass Earth (stock image)

“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.”

Its statement continued: “The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today.

“Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.”

Fortunately, it is highly unlikely the asteroid will hit Earth (stock image)

It comes as a new space race between NASA, China and the UAE started with all competing to send probes to Mars “to prove life exists”.

United Arab Emirates look set to get things underway with its Hope mission, which has a launch date of July 16 this week.

China’s Tianwen-1 is then scheduled to go up between July 20 and July 25, with NASA’s Perseverance currently scheduled to launch somewhere between July 30 and August 15.

The missions kick off a hugely important month for the world’s fascination with the Red Planet and its exploration – and one of them could even discover the secrets that prove there is or has been life on Mars.


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