The European Space Agency (ESA) has warned that Earth has a chance of getting hit by an asteroid three years from now. The approaching asteroid was included in the space agency’s Risk List.

The ESA’s Risk List catalogues near-Earth objects that might hit the planet in the future. One of the asteroids included in the list is 2009 JF1.

According to the ESA’s database, the asteroid has a diameter of about 52 feet and is currently traveling at a speed of 59,000 miles per hour, making it three times faster than the orbital velocity of the Space Shuttle.

The asteroid is expected to approach Earth on May 6, 2022 and will be within 0.08601 astronomical units or about 7.9 million miles from the planet’s center. Although 2009 JF1 is expected to only fly past Earth, the ESA admitted that the asteroid still has a chance of crashing on the planet.

As indicated in the agency’s Risk List, the chances of 2009 JF1 causing an impact event on Earth are one out of 4,000. 2009 JF1’s chances are greater compared to those of 2006 QV89, another asteroid that’s included in ESA Risk List.

The space agency indicated that this asteroid’s chances of hitting Earth are one in 7,000. ESA predicted that 2006 QV89 might hit Earth in September.

According to various scientific studies conducted on space objects, there are a number of factors that can affect the paths of asteroids. One of these is the gravitational keyhole.

Gravitational keyholes are specific areas in space that are affected by the gravitational pull of a nearby large object. Scientists believe that if a near-Earth object passes through a keyhole, the gravitational pull could significantly alter its course, leading to a possible collision.

Another possible factor that can alter an asteroid’s path if it collides with another object as its travelling through space.

In the case of 2009 JF1, the ESA is probably anticipating various scenarios where the asteroid changes its course toward Earth. Since the asteroid isn’t that big, it will hopefully burn up once it enters Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to break into tiny fragments before hitting the surface.