AN ASTEROID barreling through space at speeds exceeding 13,800mph (22,200kph) will near-miss the Earth tomorrow afternoon, NASA’s asteroid trackers have revealed.
The speedy asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 KY, will swing by our planet on Tuesday, June 4. The asteroid is hurtling in the Earth’s direction on a so-called Earth Close Approach trajectory. NASA expects Asteroid KY to zip by around 12.38pm BST tomorrow or 7.38am Eastern Time. When this happens, NASA’s asteroid trackers said the asteroid will reach speeds of around 6.19km per second or 13,846.6mph (22, 284kph).
Asteroid KY is an Apollo-type Near-Earth Object (NEO), meaning it occasionally crosses paths with Earth’s orbit.
According to NASA’s California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the space rock was first observed on May 26, 2019.
But the asteroid has been visiting the Earth since the late 1990s, with its first close approach on September 30, 1997.The last time the asteroid visited Earth’s corner of space was on December 19, 2015.
And the next flyby will occur this year, on the morning of October 13, 2019.
NASA’s JPL also estimates the asteroid measures somewhere in the range of 45ft to 104.9ft (14m to 32m) in diameter.
An asteroid this big could cause considerable damage if entered the atmosphere at high speeds.
When a 65.6ft-wide (20m) space rock exploded over Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast in 2013, the resulting arblast injured more than 1,000 people with shards of glass from blown out windows.
The unexpected incident also damaged more than 7,000 buildings in a wide radius.
Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth
Thankfully, there is no need to panic because Asteroid KY is expected to safely pass our planet without striking.
Based on NASA’s trajectory calculations, even at its closest, the asteroid will miss Earth by an approximate 0.01412 astronomical units (au).
One astronomical unit describes the average distance from the Sun to the Earth or about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
NASA asteroid tracker: The giant space rock first skimmed the Earth in1997
NASA asteroid tracker: The speed asteroid will safely pass the Earth
This means the space rock is expected to skim our homework tomorrow from a distance of just 1.3 million miles (2.1 million km).
In other words, the Asteroid KY will come as close as 5.49 times the distance to the Moon.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects 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.”