The speedy asteroid is heading towards on what has been dubbed an “Earth close approach”. NASA predicts the rocky object, named Asteroid 2008 UB94, will reach us on Wednesday, March 11.
During the approach, the asteroid will be flying at top speeds of about 7.63km per second or 17,067mph (27,468kmh).
Based on NASA’s observations, the asteroid is a relatively small-sized NEO or near-Earth object.
NEOs are all comets and asteroids that orbit the Sun from within 1.3 astronomical units (au).
NEOs often zip by the planet but not slam into it as frequently.
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NASA said: “Every day, Earth is bombarded with more than 100 tons of dust and sand-sized particles.
“About once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth’s atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface.
“Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area.”
Asteroid UB95 is estimated to measures somewhere in the range of 101ft to 223ft (31m to 68m) across.
At the upper end of the estimate, the space rock is comparable in width to the wingspan of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.
At the lower end of NASA’s estimate, the asteroid is about as wide as three-and-a-half London double-deckers buses lined up in a row.
NEOs can occasionally approach close to Earth
Astronomers first spotted the asteroid in the solar system in 2008 and NASA confirmed its orbit on October 29 that same year.
The space agency detrained UB59 is an Aten-type rock, meaning it has a trajectory similar to Asteroid 2062 Aten.
NASA said: “Atiras, Atens, Apollos and Amors are subgroups of Near-Earth asteroids, and are categorised by their orbits.”
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The space rocks are characterised by their Earth-crossing or Earth-approaching orbits.
But just how close to Earth will asteroid UB95 one tomorrow?
NASA predicts the space rock will approach our planet from a distance of about 0.04726 astronomical units.
A single astronomical unit is the distance between our planet and the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
In layman terms, the asteroid will safely miss us by about 4.39 million miles (7.07 million km).
The distance is about 18.39 times as far as the Moon is from Earth.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, NEOs 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 shoots past our planet tomorrow, NASA’s automated trackers predict the asteroid will visit us again on March 8, 2021.
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