• NASA detected an asteroid that will approach Earth tomorrow
  • The approaching asteroid follows an Earth-crossing orbit
  • The asteroid could cause an impact event if it hits Earth

NASA is currently monitoring an asteroid that’s expected to approach Earth tomorrow. Based on the data collected by the agency’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid could cause an impact event if it collides with the planet.

The approaching asteroid has been identified as 2020 AO. According to CNEOS, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 269 feet, making it almost as big as the Statue of Liberty. As noted by the agency, this asteroid is currently moving towards Earth at speeds of over 43,000 miles per hour.

2020 AO is classified as an Apollo asteroid. Like other members of this class of asteroids, 2020 AO has a very wide orbit within the Solar System. As it flies through space, it passes near various planets including Mars, Venus and Mercury. From time to time, it intersects Earth’s orbit as the planet goes around the Sun.

Since 2020 AO follows a natural orbit that crosses Earth’s path, there’s a possibility that it might collide with the planet in the future. Usually, asteroids that are less than 300 feet don’t make it to the ground. Instead, most of them just burn up in the atmosphere and cause powerful mid-air explosions.

However, 2020 AO’s current speed just might give the asteroid the additional push to successfully penetrate Earth’s atmosphere. Once this happens, the asteroid would cause an impact event on Earth.

If 2020 AO strikes Earth, it could create a crater that’s less than a mile wide. The energy that would be released from its impact would be powerful enough to take out a sizeable area such as a town.

Fortunately, 2020 AO is not in danger of hitting the planet in its upcoming visit. According to CNEOS, 2020 AO is expected to fly past Earth on Jan. 14 at 1:13 p.m. EST. During this time, the asteroid would be about 0.02393 astronomical units or roughly 2.2 million miles from the planet’s center.

The asteroid is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until Aug. 9, 2057, where it will approach Earth from a distance of 0.07948 astronomical units or about 7.3 million miles away.

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