Earth is about to get a close encounter with an asteroid today according to the data gathered by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). As indicated in the agency’s database, the approaching asteroid is massive and is almost as big as the Chicago Water Tower.

The asteroid, dubbed as 2019 LC1, is the latest near-Earth object to approach the planet this week. NASA first detected that the asteroid is on a near-collision course with Earth on May 30.

According to the data collected by CNEOS, 2019 LC1 is currently travelling at a speed of 22,100 miles per hour, which is significantly faster than the orbital velocity of the Space Shuttle.

It has a diameter of 141 feet and is expected to reach its closest distance from Earth on June 19 at 9:45 a.m. ST. Once it makes its approach, NASA estimated that the asteroid will be about 0.04848 astronomical units or around 4.5 million miles away from the planet’s center.

As explained by NASA, near-Earth objects are asteroids and other space rocks that typically orbit the Sun. From time to time, the trajectory paths of these asteroids would change, which could bring them closer to the planet.

“As they orbit the Sun, [near-Earth objects] can occasionally approach Earth,” NASA said in a statement. “Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometers.”

Currently, NASA uses two main monitoring systems to track the movements of near-Earth objects. The primary goal of these systems is to analyze if an asteroid is on a possible collision course with the planet.

One of the systems that NASA relies on is Sentry, which is an automated system that catalogues asteroids that pose a threat to Earth. This system maintains a list of high-risk asteroids that have chances of hitting the planet within the next 100 years.

The other system that NASA uses is called Scout. Unlike Sentry, Scout monitors all objects that might come close to Earth. These objects are still unconfirmed, which means they might not be asteroids. Scout collects the trajectory data and other information about these objects for further analysis regarding their official classification.

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