The speedy asteroid, dubbed 2020 BL14, is comparable in height to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, and about six London double-decker buses lined up in a row. NASA said the space rock will approach us on the afternoon of Sunday, February 16.
The news comes just two weeks after NASA confirmed BL14’s presence in the solar system.
Spotted on January 29, this year, the asteroid is trapped on an orbit that will bring it close to Earth around 3.29pm GMT (10.29am EST) on Sunday.
Asteroids like BL14 are known as near-Earth objects or NEOs.
NASA classifies NEOs as all comets and asteroids that orbit the Sun from a distance smaller than or equal to 1.3 astronomical units (au).
- NASA’s Pale Blue Dot: What’s this speck of light 4 BILLION miles away?
A single astronomical unit describes the distance between our planet and the Sun, meaning NEOs can sometimes come too close for comfort.
NASA said: “Some asteroids and comets follow orbital paths that take them much closer to the Sun and therefore Earth – than usual.
“If a comet or asteroid’s approach brings it to within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun, we call it a near-Earth object.”
NASA keeps a watchful eye on these objects through its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) in Pasadena, California.
Asteroid BL14 is estimated to measures somewhere in the range of 82ft to 180ft (25m to 55m) across.
Space rocks smaller than about 25m – about 82ft – will most likely burn up
At the lower end of the estimate, it is slightly wider than a cricket pitch is long.
The asteroid can also be compared to about six Volkswagen Beetle cars lined up in a row.
At the upper end of NASA’s size estimate, the space rock would just tower over Nelson’s Column in London, UK.
Watch an asteroid fireball explode over Canada [VIDEO]
Satellites are at risk of being weaponised, expert warns [INSIGHT]
24 HOUR heatwaves to hit Europe and North America [ANALYSIS]
- Earth EXODUS: Plan to alter Earth’s ORBIT to escape being eaten by Sun
Any asteroid this big crashing into Earth would be large enough to survive the fiery descent through the atmosphere.
NASA said: “Space rocks smaller than about 25m – about 82ft – will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and cause little or no damage.”
But even smaller asteroids can cause a lot of damage if they slip into the atmosphere undetected.
In 2013, for instance, a 65.6ft-wide (20m) meteor erupted over Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast when it came in from the direction of the Sun.
The space rock erupted before it reached the ground but the resulting airblast blew out windows in a wide radius and injured more than 1,000 people with shards of broken glass.
So, just how close does NASA expected Asteroid 2020 BL14 to approach our planet this weekend?
At its closest, NASA’s CNEOS said the space rock will fly by from about 0.04619 astronomical units.
One astronomical unit measures about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
In other words, the space rock will just miss our planet by about 4.29 million miles (6.9 million km).
Source: Read Full Article