The colossal asteroid dubbed 2019 WR3 is almost as big as London’s St Paul’s cathedral and taller than Egypt’s iconic pyramids. NASA’s asteroid trackers estimate WR3 is rapidly closing in on Earth’s orbit. According to the space agency, the asteroid will make a “close approach” on Friday, December 6.
When this happens, the asteroid will shoot past the planet at speeds of around 7.51km per second or 16,799mph (27,036km/h).
Asteroid WR3 is an Apollo-type asteroid trapped within the inner solar system.
NASA has also classified the rock an NEO or Near-Earth Object, meaning its orbit brings it incredibly close to our planet.
NASA said: “Most asteroids and comets orbit the Sun far from Earth. However, some space rocks travel along orbits that are just a little farther away from the Sun than is the Earth.
- Asteroid warning: NASA tracks a 21,300mph rock on possible collision
“In fact, some of these orbit paths actually approach Earth, coming just a little farther or a little closer than the Moon’s distance.
“It is these objects, especially the larger ones, that we closely observe and track.”
NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) first spotted Asteroid WR3 on November 27 this year.
As of December 1, the space agency has observed the space rock 74 times to determine its size, speed and trajectory.
NASA determined the asteroid measures somewhere in the range of 249ft to 55.7ft (76m to 170m) in diameter.
At the upper end of NASA’s estimate, the asteroid is comparable in size to the Washington Monument in Washington DC, US.
Most asteroids and comets orbit the Sun far from Earth
At the lower end of the estimate, the asteroid is still formidable and comparable in length to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.
According to NASA, an asteroid this big could cause significant “local damage” to the impact area.
Any asteroid bigger than 82ft (25m) in diameter is bound to survive slamming into Earth’s atmosphere.
What does the threat of climate change mean for the UK? [ANALYSIS]
An interstellar comet is found racing through the system [PICTURES]
Asteroid collisions ‘can provide the seeds of life [INSIGHT]
- How an ‘impossible’ black hole will ‘rewrite astronomy books’
Will the Asteroid 2019 WR3 crash into Earth?
Despite the space rock making a “close approach” to our planet next week, NASA does not expect the asteroid to deviate from its path and hit Earth.
The space rock will make its closest approach to Earth around 8.52pm GMT (3.52pm EDT) on Friday, December 6.
When this happens, WR3 will approach the planet from a distance of about 0.03638 astronomical units (au).
A single astronomical unit describes the distance from Earth to the Sun or about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
On December 6, the asteroid will cut the distance down to just 3.38 million miles (5.44 million km).
In other words, WR3 will approach Earth from about 14.16 times the distance to the Moon.
NASA said: “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.”
Source: Read Full Article