KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected a massive asteroid approaching Earth
  • 2000 KA follows an Earth-crossing orbit
  • The asteroid is classified as "potentially hazardous"

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) detected a massive “potentially hazardous” asteroid that’s expected to safely fly past Earth on Tuesday (May 12). According to the agency’s asteroid tracking system, the approaching asteroid is bigger than the Washington Monument.

The incoming asteroid has been identified as 2000 KA. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid is currently moving across space at an average velocity of over 30,000 miles per hour. CNEOS estimated that 2000 KA measures about 886 feet wide, making it over twice as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

2000 KA was first observed on May 22, 2000. After studying the asteroid’s trajectory, NASA learned that it follows an elongated path around the Sun that extends beyond the orbit of Mars. As the asteroid travels within the Solar System, it occasionally crosses Earth’s path.

NASA noted that due to the asteroid’s Earth-intersecting orbit, it had been classified as a member of the Apollo family of space rocks. This orbit, along with the asteroid’s massive size, are some of the reasons why 2000 KA was labeled as “potentially hazardous.”

Asteroids receive this designation if they are big enough and if they are known to approach Earth from close distances.

According to the data collected by CNEOS, 2000 KA is expected to fly past Earth on May 12 at 6:20 a.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will fly past Earth from a very safe distance. CNEOS noted that 2000 KA would zip past the planet from 0.02271 astronomical units or about 2.1 million miles from the planet’s center.

The last time that 2000 KA was in Earth’s vicinity was on May 31, 2017. Back then, the asteroid approached Earth from a much farther distance of 0.46599 astronomical units, which is equivalent to about 43 million miles away.

After tomorrow’s flyby, 2000 KA is not expected to return to Earth’s neighborhood until June 6, 2023. The asteroid will zip past the planet from a distance of about 0.46378 astronomical units or around 43 million miles away during its future approach.