NASA has discovered an asteroid (not in the picture) travelling near our planet nine days ago. It wil pass by Earth within 1.3 lunar distances, that’s almost 500,000km. And it’s huge, too! Measuring between 300 and 600 meters, the ginormous rock was discovered by the asteroid-hunting Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii.
Even more thrilling, according to NASA, it will pass by Earth on 31 October at an ‘unusually’ high encounter velocity of 35km/s. That is faster than the Russion meteorite caught by vehicle cameras in 2013, which was travelling at the top speed of 19km/s. It is also very big. Bigger than the one that flattened a Russian forest in 1908, which was measured at 40 metres.
Luckily, there is no danger of a collision. So don’t get into your underground bunker yet. It’s size and velocity would definitely cause a huge crater on Earth but it seems the asteroid will not be visiting Earth.
NASA says the asteroid is on an extremely eccentric orbit. An asteroid with eccentric orbit does not go around a body- in this case a planet- in a perfect circle. It deviates away from the planet as it continues to orbit the sun. And the one astronomers discovered has an extreme orbital eccentricity.
Telescope-enthusiasts should not miss this flyby because it will be a treat of a lifetime. But for the rest of us, keep an eye out at the sky on Halloween for any signs of the huge lump of space rock.