NASA scientists are monitoring the movement of massive asteroid 388945, which is 490 meters wide and will make a “close” approach to planet Earth on Sunday evening
A giant asteroid, larger than the Empire State Building, is hurtling toward Earth at a whopping 18,000 miles per hour, NASA has warned.
The agency is closely watching the space rock that will pass our planet on Sunday, May 15th.
Any large asteroid approaching within 4.65 million miles of Earth is classified by experts as “potentially dangerous” – and the latest asteroid on NASA’s radar falls into this category, as it approaches our planet at 3.5 Million miles approaching.
The atmospheric debris — known as asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) — is 490 meters wide, taller than the 440-meter-tall Empire State Building in New York.
It’s big enough to cause significant damage if it hits the planet—in 1908, a meteor that struck eastern Siberia and flattened entire forests measured about 200 meters.
Anything longer than 100 meters can even generate a devastating force about 10 times more destructive than a volcanic eruption.
But while there would certainly be widespread damage if asteroid 388945 hit Earth, NASA reckons it will only make a “close approach.”
Luckily, the human race has more protection from asteroids than the dinosaurs that were wiped out by a space collision.
NASA scientists have previously launched a £240million project that will see a rocket fly at 14,000mph into an asteroid to deflect its course.
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The mission is being conducted by NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) group, and Andy Cheng, senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, told the FT it was “very exciting”.
He said: “It feels very exciting – like a dream come true – that something we’ve been thinking about for 20 years is actually happening.
“In a dire emergency, we could take a spacecraft being built for a different purpose, attach a new guidance system, and send it up to hit the asteroid.”