A monstrous 1.2km asteroid is hurtling towards us as we speak, and is set to crash into our orbit this coming week.
NASA’s tool tracking near-earth asteroids has identified an absolute whooper which is more than 12 times larger than Big Ben.
Asteroid 138971 will make its close-earth approach on March 5 (this coming Friday) and is so large that it is just one of two asteroids being tracked by the space agency to have been assigned a specific number.
The second largest asteroid being tracked by NASA is a mere 152m, almost eight times smaller than this absolute beast.
If it were to crash into earth the asteroid could cause an extinction level event, but luckily 138971 will be passing us by.
NASA say that it should come just under five million kilometres away from us, which is still extremely narrow in space terms.
For perspective, the sun is 148million kilometres away, some 30 times further than the monster asteroid will be.
138971 will also be travelling at a staggering speed. NASA reckon it will top 12.02km/s when it passes us by – that’s nearly 27,000mph.
More still, another asteroid is set to come extremely close to earth today.
Categorised as 2022 DA2, it will pass just 1.2million kilometres away from our planet.
At roughly 33m wide – exactly one third the size of Big Ben – we would still know about it if it crashed directly into us, although we wouldn’t be wiped out.
In December last year, NASA launched its DART mission with the aim of testing their capability to divert deadly asteroids if one was headed our way.
In what is NASA’s first ever planetary defence mission, the space agency plan to crash a 610kg craft into moonlet Dimorphos, which orbits a far larger asteroid in Didymos, to test how effectively we can alter the path of asteroids.
The DART craft cost $330 million (£247 million) and will be heading at 15,000mph towards the Dimorphos.
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