An asteroid twice the size of the Empire State Building will fly past Earth this weekend, but there’s no chance of it colliding with our planet.
Movies showing us what might happen should an asteroid be on a collision course with Earth have got us worried that one day it might actually happen. It’s what brought the curtain down on the dinosaurs’ stay on the planet after all. Truth be told there’s a chance it might happen. In fact, it almost definitely will happen. We just hope that it won’t happen for a while.
We don’t want to panic you, but there’s actually an asteroid flying close enough to our planet this weekend that it has been classed as a “near-Earth object” reports LiveScience. The reason there’s no need to panic is that even though it is being classed as nearby, it will still be 3.3 million miles away from us. That’s almost 14 times further away than the moon.
The asteroid’s name is Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of chaos. Cool, but that doesn’t exactly put our minds at ease when it came to a potential collision. It’s not the biggest asteroid out there, but still large enough to wipe out a city the size of London should it ever visit Earth. It’s about twice the length of the Empire State Building.
Apophis is no interstellar object. It’s a part of our solar system, orbits our sun, and actually passes by Earth on a pretty regular basis. It whizzed by at more than 14,000 mph back in 2000 and will do so again in 2029. However, on that occasion, it will be much closer. Only 19,000 miles away, although scientists previously thought there was a chance it would collide with Earth on that occasion.
Now that we know that it won’t, it affords researchers the chance to get an incredibly close look at the space rock. Radar scientist Marina Brozović believes the asteroid will be close enough in 2029 that we’ll be able to see details on its surface that are only a few meters in size. Who knows what we might learn from its fly-by a decade from now.