According to NASA data, an asteroid that could be larger than the tallest building in the world is expected to fly over Earth next week.
The asteroid, named 467460 (2006 JF42), is estimated to have a diameter of up to 2,755 feet, meaning it may be wider than the height of the tallest building in the world – the 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
The space rock will get closer to our planet on Monday, May 9, around 8:13 pm EDT, at which time it is expected to travel at a speed of approximately 25,300 miles per hour according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
Earth will be completely safe. At the closest point to our planet, dubbed “close approach” by CNEOS, 2006 JF42 will still be about 3.5 million miles away, more than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Also, there is no guarantee as to the size of the 2006 JF42. 2,755 feet is a higher estimate than its diameter; according to CNEOS it could also be as little as 1,214 feet in diameter.
However, 2006’s JF42 is classified as a potentially dangerous asteroid, or PHA, due to its potential to make menacing close passes from Earth, even though it may never hit us.
In general, asteroids that cannot approach Earth by approximately 4,650,000 miles or are less than approximately 500 feet in diameter are not considered PHA.
2006 JF42 is a fairly regular visitor to Earth as it orbits the Sun, passing our planet once every few years or so around the same time of year according to orbital data. Sometimes it will pass the Earth at a shorter distance than others.
On May 5, 2033, it is expected to pass the Earth at a distance of approximately 2.1 million miles.
Asteroids continuously pass the Earth at varying distances and sizes. About 100 tons of space dust is thought to rise to Earth’s surface every day, CNEOS says. Larger asteroids with a diameter of around 100 meters (328 feet) might be expected to collide with Earth once every 10,000 years or so, causing local disasters or possibly tsunamis.
An even larger asteroid could cause global disaster on average every several hundred thousand years or so.
Scientists constantly track thousands of asteroids for the purpose of Earth defense and have devised theoretical ways to prevent an impending impact of space rocks. Last year NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which will be a hands-on test of technology that could change the course of an asteroid in space.