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

NASA has detected a massive asteroid that’s currently headed for Earth. According to the space agency’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroid is bigger than the Statue of Liberty.

The asteroid, dubbed as 2019 NF1, is currently traveling at a speed of 22,500 miles per hour, making it about 15 times faster than the maximum velocity of an F-16 fighter jet. CNEOS noted that the asteroid has a diameter of around 308 feet.

The agency estimated that 2019 NF1 will approach Earth on July 17 at 5:09 pm ST. During its approach, the asteroid is expected to be about 0.04937 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles away from Earth’s center.

2019 NF1 was first observed on July 2. Through observations on its trajectory, CNEOS was able to plot out the asteroid’s paths from 1915 to 2147. Due to its close approaches, the asteroid has been classified as a near-Earth object by CNEOS.

“Near-Earth objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood,” the agency said in a statement.

“Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter,” CNEOS added.

According to the agency’s data, 2019 NF1 used to be a frequent visitor to Venus’s vicinity. This occurred from 1931 to 1937. However, after passing by Earth in 1938, 2019 NF1 never returned to Venus again.

It is possible that Earth’s gravitational forces or other factors in space affected the asteroid’s trajectory path and altered its course away from Venus.

The last time the asteroid approached Earth was on Jan. 9, 2019. During this time, it flew close to the planet from a distance of 0.15927 astronomical units or around 14.8 million miles away.

2019 NF1 is not expected to return to Earth’s neighborhood until Feb. 11, 2030. On its next return, the asteroid will fly at a much farther distance of 0.21933 astronomical units or about 20 million miles away from Earth.