• NASA detected an asteroid currently approaching Earth
  • 2020 GN2 follows an Earth-crossing orbit
  • The asteroid's next near-Earth visit will be in 2028

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has recently detected an asteroid that’s currently approaching Earth. According to the data collected by the agency, the approaching asteroid is almost as big as the Chicago Water Tower.

The incoming asteroid has been identified as 2020 GN2. CNEOS noted that this asteroid is currently flying within the Solar System at an average speed of almost 22,500 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of about 148 feet.

According to NASA, 2020 GN2 follows a wide orbit around that Sun that sometimes extends beyond the path of Mars. During the course of its journey, the asteroid occasionally crosses Earth’s orbit as the planet completes its cycle around the massive star. Due to 2020 GN2’s Earth-intersecting orbit, it has been classified by NASA as a member of the Apollo family of asteroids.

Aside from Earth, 2020 GN2 is also known to intersect Mars’ orbit as the asteroid makes its way around the Sun.

2020 GN2 was first observed on April 12. After analyzing the asteroid’s trajectory, CNEOS learned that the asteroid is expected to intersect Earth’s orbit on April 16 at 4:01 a.m. EDT. As the asteroid crosses Earth’s path, it will be about 0.00821 astronomical units from the planet’s center, which is equivalent to around 763,000 miles away.

Prior to its upcoming visit, the last time 2020 GN2 visited Earth’s vicinity was on Sept. 8, 2015. According to NASA’s data, the asteroid approached Earth from a much farther distance compared to its flyby on Thursday. As noted by the agency, the asteroid flew past Earth in 2015 from a distance of about 0.28258 astronomical units or around 26 million miles away.

According to NASA’s projections regarding the asteroid’s trajectory, 2020 GN2 is not expected to return to Earth’s neighborhood until Sept. 12, 2028. For its future visit, the asteroid will approach Earth from a much farther distance.

As indicated in the data collected by NASA, 2020 GN2 is expected to zip past Earth from about 0.37509 astronomical units away, which is equivalent to a distance of almost 35 million miles.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay