NASA has spotted a massive asteroid that’s currently headed for Earth. Based on the size of the space rock, it will most likely explode mid-air if it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2019 RJ1. The agency classified the asteroid as a near-Earth object (NEO). According to the agency, NEOs are cosmic objects that orbit near Earth after being affected by gravitational forces.

“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,” NASA 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,” the agency added.

According to the agency’s database, this asteroid is currently traveling at a speed of 23,375 miles per hour. It is estimated to have a diameter of 82 feet, making it almost as long as the distances between baseball bases.

Given the size of the asteroid, it will probably not reach the ground if it breaches Earth’s atmosphere. Since it’s a bit small, 2019 RJ1 will most likely explode mid-air shortly after entering Earth.

This, however, does not automatically mean that those on the ground are safe from the asteroid. Back in 2013, an asteroid that was about 66 feet long went through Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over a region in Russia. Despite being a small asteroid, the explosion produced energy that was equivalent to 500 kilotons of TNT, which is about 30 times more powerful than an atomic bomb.

Although the explosion was mainly absorbed by the atmosphere, it was still powerful enough to damage over 7,000 buildings and injure about 1,500 people.

Fortunately, as CNEOS stated, 2019 RJ1 is not in danger of hitting Earth. According to the agency, the asteroid will pass by Earth on Sept. 12 at 3:40 am EDT. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.02771 astronomical units or roughly 2.6 million miles from the planet’s center.

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