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A huge asteroid is set to fly ‘near’ to Earth at the beginning of next year. Something to look forward to, eh?
The asteroid - named Asteroid 2013 YD48 - is approximately 104 metres (340ft) wide and will be 5,600,000km away (3.48m miles) when it is at its closest to Earth on 11 January.
Now, while that might sound a lot, and you certainly wouldn’t want to try and run that distance, in space terms it’s actually pretty close.
According to the Daily Star, NASA regards anything that is within 193,121,280km (120m miles) as a ‘Near-Earth Object’ (NEO).
Asteroid 2013 YD48 is currently being monitored by NASA on its Asteroid Watch Dashboard.
The dashboard explains: “The dashboard displays the next five Earth approaches to within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometres or 19.5 times the distance to the moon); an object larger than about 150 metres that can approach the Earth to within this distance is termed a potentially hazardous object.
“The average distance between Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometres).”
But try not to panic too much, as back in March NASA confirmed the Earth was safe from an asteroid smash for at least the next one hundred years.
The US space agency released a statement amid fears that Apophis - a 1,100ft asteroid named after the Egyptian god of chaos - will whack into the planet at some point in the future.
NASA has previously said the asteroid won't hit in 2029 or 2036 and has now released new information to say that it won't be smacking into us in 2068, either.
New data confirm Earth is safe from #asteroid Apophis for next 100+ years. Apophis was previously identified as one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids, but new radar observations have ruled that out. Just another day for @NASA #PlanetaryDefense! https://t.co/RMhuLQyHrZ pic.twitter.com/Q5A0RAfFUY— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 26, 2021
Radar observations were able to rule out any danger of the asteroid hitting us in the next century, which is good to know, isn't it?
Davide Farnocchia from NASA's brilliantly named Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies said: "A 2068 impact is not in the realm of possibility any more, and our calculations don't show any impact risk for at least the next 100 years.
"With the support of recent optical observations and additional radar observations, the uncertainty in Apophis' orbit has collapsed from hundreds of kilometres to just a handful of kilometres when projected to 2029.
"This greatly improved knowledge of its position in 2029 provides more certainty of its future motion, so we can now remove Apophis from the risk list."
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