NASA tracking HUGE 500-metre asteroid to pass Earth next month

Asteroid 2000 WO107, which is now known to be a whopping 1,640ft (500m) in diameter, will soon hurtle safely past Earth. The asteroid’s closest approach to Earth has now been confirmed to take place on November 29, at 6.08am BST.

The asteroid will blast past our planet at almost 11 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon – an extremely safe gap.

Although the asteroid will be invisible to the naked eye, telescope owners have a chance of spotting it.

Although they will have to be quick as asteroid 2000 WO107 is thought to be an unusually fast-moving space rock, barrelling through space at the almost-incomprehensible speed of 56,080mph (90,252kmh).

To put this into perspective, asteroid 2020 SW – which hurtled past our blue planet last month – was travelling at speeds of ‘only’ 17,336mph (27,900kmh).

Asteroid 2000 WO107 is of particular interest to astronomers partly because of its large size.

To put 2000 WO107’s size into context, asteroid 2020 SW, which last month came within 7 percent of the average distance between Earth and the Moon, was a mere 30ft 10m across.

And to underline exactly how much hugely space rocks range in size, the asteroid belt’s largest object is Ceres.

This monster is estimated to be some 170 miles (473km) in diameter.

But the space rock is also of particular note for NASA as subsequent passes of the asteroid will see it getting even closer to Earth.

Asteroid 2000 WO107 is classified as an Aten type, meaning it has an orbit similar to Earth’s.

The space rock completes an orbit around the Sun every 318 days.

Such a path brings the asteroid between the orbits of the solar system’s innermost planet Mercury and Earth.

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And the latest estimates indicate that, as well as occasionally coming close to Earth this unusual asteroid also makes close approaches to Mars, Venus and Mercury.

The space agency is expected to take a reading of the asteroid during its next close approach by analysing radar signals bounced from its rocky surface.

Many of these observations will take place at California’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex.

Such radar observations will result in images revealing the asteroid’s shape.

NASA expects the observations of 2000 WO107 will allow asteroid experts to determine the space rock’s composition.

The asteroid might be metallic, or it might be an optically dark rock, meaning it is tricky to spot in the visible light part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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