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​Asteroid That May Be Bigger Than Empire State Building Flying By Earth This Week

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​Asteroid That May Be Bigger Than Empire State Building Flying By Earth This Week

An asteroid that could be even bigger than the Empire State Building is due to head our way this week - don't worry though, it'll still be more than five million kilometres from Earth.

The asteroid, which NASA has dubbed 163348 (2002 NN4), is expected to pass by on Saturday 6 June at a velocity of 11,146km/s.

According to SpaceReference.org, 163348 (2002 NN4) is a 'very small' asteroid that has been classified by NASA as 'Potentially Hazardous' due to its predicated close pass with Earth.

It is thought to measure between 0.254 to 0.568 kilometers in diameter, making it potentially larger than the Empire State Building in New York, which has a total height of 0.4432km.

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While it is considered small in 'absolute terms', the asteroid is still larger than 90 percent of others.

The Empire State Building has a total height of 0.4432km. Credit: PA
The Empire State Building has a total height of 0.4432km. Credit: PA

SpaceReference.org said: "163348 (2002 NN4) is a very small asteroid whose orbit could bring it in close proximity to Earth. NASA JPL has classified 2002 NN4 as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid' due to its predicted close pass(es) with Earth.

"2002 NN4 orbits the sun every 300 days (0.82 years), coming as close as 0.50 AU and reaching as far as 1.26 AU from the sun. Based on its brightness and the way it reflects light, 2002 NN4 is probably between 0.254 to 0.568 kilometers in diameter, making it small in absolute terms, but larger than 90% of asteroids, very roughly comparable in size to a football field.

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"The rotation of 2002 NN4 has been observed. It completes a rotation on its axis every 14.50 days."

The asteroid will have many 'close approaches' with Earth in the future - around 30 predicted at the moment,to be precise - but SpaceReference.org says it doesn't plan to come back to see us until June 2029, so you'd better give it a wave on Saturday.

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The website added: "2002 NN4's orbit is 0.01 AU from Earth's orbit at its closest point. This means that its orbit is relatively close to Earth's orbit."

Until Saturday, space fans can entertain themselves with all the excitement at the International Space Station, where two NASA astronauts have just arrived after travelling from Earth via SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

Featured Image Credit: Japan Space Guard Association/@AsamiAtsuo

Topics: News, Nasa, space, Asteroid

Jess Hardiman
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