The European Space Agency (ESA) recently added a new asteroid into its Risk List due to the space rock’s chances of hitting Earth in the future. Based on the data collected by the ESA, the dangerous asteroid could collide with the planet in less than 70 years from now.

According to the ESA, the asteroid has been identified as 2019 SU3. It is currently listed as the fourth most dangerous asteroid in the agency’s Risk List, which catalogs all space rocks with non-zero Earth impact probabilities.

Aside from the Risk List, 2019 SU3 is also in the agency’s Priority List, which means the ESA is keeping a close eye on the asteroid’s trajectory.

As of this writing, 2019 SU3 has only been in the ESA’s Risk List for only 12 days. According to the agency, the asteroid’s chances of hitting Earth are one out of 152.

The ESA noted that the asteroid’s potential Earth impact might take place on Sept. 16, 2084. During this time, the asteroid is expected to approach Earth from a distance of only 0.00079 astronomical units or roughly 73,435 miles away.

Given this short distance, a slight nudge on the asteroid could easily send it crashing to Earth. This can happen if the asteroid gets affected by the gravitational pull of nearby planets. According to the ESA, 2019 SU3 is an Apollo asteroid with a very wide orbit around the Earth and Sun. Occasionally, the asteroid’s orbit intersects with that of Earth.

As 2019 SU3 completes its orbit, it sometimes passes near other planets including Venus, Mercury and Mars. The gravitational pull from any of these planets can easily alter the asteroid’s trajectory. By the time it reaches Earth’s vicinity, it might already be on a direct collision course with the planet.

Fortunately, the asteroid is not big enough to cause a major impact event in case it collides with Earth. As indicated in ESA’s database, 2019 SU3 has an estimated diameter of about 46 feet. Due to its small size, the asteroid will most likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere instead of hitting the ground.

asteroids_passing_earth Over 17,000 near-Earth asteroids remain undetected in our solar neighborhood. Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA