Massive asteroid bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza will make a close approach to Earth NEXT WEEK traveling more than 20,000 miles per hour
- Asteroid 2016 NF23 is expected to skim past Earth on Aug 29, according to NASA
- Space rock will pass by at about 13 lunar distances, or just over 3 million miles
- It’s estimated to be 230-525 ft wide (70-160 kilometers), traveling 20,000 mph
A massive asteroid estimated to be double the size of a Boeing 747 is headed toward a close approach with Earth next week.
Asteroid 2016 NF23 is expected to skim past us on August 29 at just over 3 million miles away, or about 13 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The huge space rock is traveling more than 20,000 miles per hour (32,400 km/h) and is considered to be a ‘potentially hazardous’ object given its proximity – but, its trajectory should see it soar safely by in the early days of September.
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A massive asteroid estimated to be double the size of a Boeing 747 is headed toward a close approach with Earth next week. But, it’s expected to make a safe pass at 13 times the distance between Earth and the moon. Artist’s impression pictured
According to NASA, asteroid 2017 NF23 is about 230 to 525 feet wide (70-160 kilometers).
That means even low-balling, the object is about as wide as the length of a Boeing 747 – and on the high end of the estimate, it could be double that.
At 525 feet, it would be taller than Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza, which stands at about 455 feet.
NASA tracks this and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) to keep track of any potential incoming threats.
This particular space rock is classified within the ‘Atens’ group, named for asteroid 1862 Atens, because of its Earth-crossing orbit and smaller semi-major axis.
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A diagram from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab shows just how its orbit intersects with Earth’s, with the asteroid getting closer and closer to our planet in the days leading up to August 29, when it reaches its closest point.
At this time, it will be about .03 astronomical units (au) away – or about 3 million miles.
The huge space rock is traveling more than 20,000 miles per hour (32,400 km/h) and is considered to be a ‘potentially hazardous’ object given its proximity – but, its trajectory should see it soar safely by in the early days of September. Its close approach to Earth is circled above
IS EARTH DUE FOR A MAJOR ASTEROID IMPACT?
Researchers have discovered most of the asteroids that are about a kilometers in size, but are now on the hunt for those that are about 140m – as they could cause catastrophic damage.
Although nobody knows when the next big impact will occur, scientists have found themselves under pressure to predict – and intercept – its arrival.
Artist’s impression pictured
‘Sooner or later we will get… a minor or major impact,’ said Rolf Densing, who heads the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, ahead of International Asteroid Day on Friday.
It may not happen in our lifetime, he said, but ‘the risk that Earth will get hit in a devastating event one day is very high.’
For now, there is little we can do.
And yet, the first-ever mission to crash a probe into a small space rock to alter its trajectory suffered a major setback when European ministers declined in December to fund part of the project.
‘We are not ready to defend ourselves’ against an Earth-bound object, said Densing. ‘We have no active planetary defense measures.’
Asteroid 2016 NF23 also falls within the category of ‘potentially hazardous objects,’ which are those that reach a minimum distance less than .05 au from Earth and have an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or brighter.
Asteroid 2016 NF23 has an absolute magnitude of 22.9.
In recent years, NASA has turned its focus to finding near-Earth objects estimated to be larger than 140 meters, as 90 percent of those larger than 1 kilometer have already been located.
In comparison, just 10 percent of these smaller – but still potentially catastrophic – objects are thought to have been found to date.
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