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Large Asteroid Set To Pass Through Earth's Orbit On 17 September

Tom Wood

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Large Asteroid Set To Pass Through Earth's Orbit On 17 September

NASA has been tracking an asteroid that's possibly even bigger than London Bridge, as it's supposed to pass through the Earth's orbit over the course of the next week.

The snappily titled Asteroid 2014 QJ33 is expected to pass us by on 17 September and should manage to get past us safely, skimming through our planet's orbit with relatively little fanfare.

Is that good news right now? It's quite hard to tell.

The celestial object has been classed as an Apollo asteroid, which is a name given to objects that pass by through our orbit.


In case you're interested, asteroids that go through the orbit of Mars are called Amor asteroids.

The huge space rock has been tracked by NASA because it is a Near Earth Object (NEO).

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

In space terms, that's anything that crashes past us within a distance of 1.3 Astronomical Units (AU), which is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.


So it's still pretty far away, at least.

Despite being considered a fairly close encounter with a large asteroid, that's only when you consider the incredible vastness of space.

This particular 'near miss' will be 6.67 lunar units - that's 1,592,819 miles, to you and me - away.

According to NASA's best guess, Asteroid 2014 QJ33 could be anywhere between 48 to 110 metres wide.


So, remember we said London Bridge before? That particular landmark comes in at 104 metres, so it's somewhere right in the middle of that potential range.

Either way, it's a huge lump of rock, and it's travelling at some whack.

When it skirts past us - in relative terms, anyway - it will be travelling at a speed of 8.66 kilometres per second, or 19,371 miles per hour.

Bloody hell, that's quick.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

It would take the rock about two hours to travel the full distance around the circumference of the Earth, to put that into context.

The team over at NASA are currently tracking around 2,000 objects that could end up coming quite close to Earth.

That includes comets, asteroids, and various other bits of space stuff.


By their own definition, the term NEO can be used to describe any "comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighbourhood."

Most of these NEOs won't cause any disturbance, but in rare cases they can affect the weather systems down here.

In even rarer cases - like the one that hit us 66 million years ago - they can cause total and utter devastation.

That's incredibly unlikely to happen on Thursday, though.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Topics: Science, World News, Interesting, Nasa, Technology

Tom Wood
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