• NASA detected an asteroid approaching Earth
  • The asteroid follows a wide orbit around the Sun
  • 2020 KY won't cause an impact event on Earth

NASA is currently tracking an asteroid that’s expected to fly past Earth on Tuesday (June 9). According to the data collected by the agency, the approaching asteroid follows a wide orbit around the Sun.

The incoming asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 KY. This space rock is currently making its way across space toward Earth at a speed of over 5,000 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of about 115 feet.

2020 KY was first observed on May 17. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA was able to create a diagram depicting the asteroid’s path. As indicated in the diagram, 2020 KY follows a wide orbit around the Sun that occasionally passes near Earth. Due to its orbital path, 2020 KY has been classified as an Amor asteroid.

2020 KY is not as big and as fast as the other asteroids that are known to approach Earth. If it ends up colliding with Earth, it won’t hit the ground and cause an impact event. Instead, the asteroid will most likely fragment in the air and cause a powerful explosion in the sky.

Given the size of the asteroid, its mid-air explosion could be very powerful. Back in 2013, a 66-foot-wide asteroid detonated in the sky over a populated city in Russia. The energy from the blast was equivalent to about 30 atomic bombs.

According to reports, the shockwave from the explosion was powerful enough to damage about 7,000 buildings in the area.

Fortunately, 2020 KY is not in danger of causing an airburst on Earth since it won’t collide with the planet during its upcoming visit. According to CNEOS, the asteroid will fly past Earth on June 9 at 7:51 p.m. EDT from a very safe distance. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.04430 astronomical units or roughly 4.1 million miles away from the planet’s center.

The asteroid is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until Dec. 3, 2024. NASA noted that the asteroid would approach Earth from a distance of 0.32267 astronomical units or 30 million miles during its future visit.

Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. NASA