The imposing asteroid, dubbed Asteroid 1998 HL1, is en route to make an “Earth close approach”. NASA’s asteroid trackers estimate the space rock will close-in on Earth October 25. When the asteroid approaches Earth, the rock will reach speeds of more than 25,000 (40,200kph).
What do we know about the Asteroid HL1?
Asteroid HL1 is a “potentially hazardous asteroid” (PHA) fist observed 21 years ago.
Spotted on April 18, 1988, astronomers have dubbed the asteroid a “Near-Earth Object” or NEO.
NEOs are all comets and asteroids orbiting the Sun that come incredibly close to Earth.
Occasionally, an asteroid like HL1 will cross paths with Earth’s orbit on a close approach trajectory.
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NASA’s asteroid trackers estimate the giant space rock measures somewhere in the range of 1,443ft to 3,248ft (440m to 990m) across.
The calculations are based on 519 orbital observations since HL1’s initial discovery.
At the upper end of that estimate, the asteroid is about seven times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
More than 100 London double-decker buses could fit across the asteroid’s diameter.
If an object this size ever struck the planet, NASA claims the effects would have a “worldwide” impact.
NASA said: “We believe anything larger than one to two kilometres – one kilometre is a little more than one-half mile – could have worldwide effects.
“At 5.4 kilometres in diameter, the largest known potentially hazardous asteroid is Toutatis.”
Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth
At the lower end of NASA’s estimate, the space rock is comparable in height to the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The asteroid will arrive in Earth’s corner of space later this month on Friday, October 25.
Based on NASA’s orbital calculations, the asteroid is flying through space at speeds of around 11.21km per second or 25,076mph (40,356kph).
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How close will the asteroid come to Earth this month?
When the monstrous asteroid makes its flyby later this month, NASA expects it to approach Earth from about 0.04155 astronomical units.
A single astronomical unit describes the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
The distance between Earth and the Sun is about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
Asteroid HL1 will drastically slash this distance down to just 3.86 million miles (6.2 million km).
In other words, the space rock will approach our planet from 16.7 times the distance to the Moon.
NASA said: “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.”
After the asteroid safely misses the planet, it will visit Earth on another close approach on October 15, 2026.
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