The asteroid is known as 2019 WR3 and, at 97 metres long, is bigger than five double-decker buses parked back to back. NASA said the asteroid is whizzing through the solar system at a staggering 16,777 miles per hour (27,000 kilometres per hour). At that speed, it could easily travel the circumference of the Earth – 40,075 km (24,901 miles) at the equator – in less than an hour.
For reference, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet ever built, could not even reach New York from London in an hour.
NASA has said the space rock will come within 0.037 astronomical units (AU) of Earth.
One AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun (149,598,000 km), so 0.037 AU is 5,535,121 km.
While this may seem like a sizeable distance, it is close enough for NASA to sit up and take notice.
The US-based space agency have classed 2019 WR3 as a Near Earth Object (NEO) and allow the space agency to study the history of our solar system.
NASA set 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.
“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.
“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.”
While this specific asteroid poses no threat to Earth, NASA experts have warned there is a “100 percent” chance an asteroid will hit our world.
Greg Leonard, a senior research specialist at Catalina Sky Survey – a NASA funded project supported by the Near Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO) – told Bryan Walsh for the latter’s new book End Times: “I know the chances of me dying in an asteroid impact is less than dying from a lightning strike.
“But I also know that if we do nothing, sooner or later, there’s a one hundred percent chance that one will get us.
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“So I feel privileged to be doing something.”
However, Mr Walsh went on to say that “intelligence-gathering alone won’t keep Earth safe.”
Mr Walsh continued: “As Leonard said, given enough time, a large Near Earth Object will end up on a collision course with our planet.
“It’s happened before and it will happen again.”
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