KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected an asteroid approaching Earth
  • 2020 FB follows an Earth-crossing orbit
  • The asteroid is not in danger of causing an impact event

NASA’s automated asteroid tracker has detected a near-Earth object (NEO) that’s expected to fly past the planet tomorrow. According to the data gathered by the agency, the asteroid is known to follow a natural orbit that directly intersects Earth’s path.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 FB. The agency estimated that this space rock measures about 171 feet wide, which makes it significantly taller than the Chicago Water Tower.

According to CNEOS, 2020 FB is currently moving across the Solar System at an average velocity of over 10,000 miles per hour.

2020 FB was first observed on March 16. After studying its trajectory, NASA classified it as an Apollo asteroid. Like other asteroids that have the same classification, 2020 FB follows an orbit that crosses Earth’s path around the Sun.

Aside from Earth, this NEO is also known to intersect the orbit of Mars.

According to CNEOS, 2020 FB is expected to safely pass by Earth during its upcoming visit. As indicated in the agency’s database, the space rock will fly past the planet on March 25 at 12:02 pm EDT from a distance of about 0.02200 astronomical units, which is equivalent to around 2 million miles away.

The last time 2020 FB came close to Earth was on Feb. 14, 1940. According to NASA, the asteroid approached the planet from a distance of 0.28730 astronomical units or around 26 million miles away during that time.

After tomorrow’s visit, 2020 FB is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until Feb. 17, 2082. NASA predicted that it would approach Earth from a distance of 0.28809 astronomical units or around 27 million miles away.

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