A massive asteroid nearly four times the size of the Empire State Building will make a close fly-by on May 27. This is according to NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
Reported first by Space.com, the asteroid has been named 7335 (1989 JA) and is around 1.8 kilometres in diameter. It has been categorised as a Near-Earth Object — an astronomical object that passes within 48 million kilometres of Earth’s orbit.
NASA highlights that 7335 (1989 JA) is the largest asteroid to come so close to Earth and is travelling at an estimated speed of 76,000 kilometres per hour — nearly twenty times faster than the speed of a bullet shot from a gun.
According to the report, despite its gargantuan size will be quite far away from Earth — around 4 million kilometres away or around ten times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
Regardless, NASA likes to keep track of such asteroids and has categorised them as ‘potentially hazardous’ as should the asteroid’s trajectory were to ever change and come crashing down on Earth, it’s capable of doing considerable damage.
The next time the asteroid will come in close proximity to Earth won’t be until June 23, 2055, and at that time it will be even farther at approximately seventy times the distance between Earth and Moon.
This is also an Apollo class asteroid, meaning that the asteroid orbits the sun while also periodically crossing Earth’s orbit. Today, only 15,000 such asteroids are known by astronomers.