• An asteroid will approach Earth tomorrow
  • The asteroid's trajectory is affected by factors in space
  • The asteroid is not capable of causing an impact event on Earth

NASA’s asteroid tracking system is currently monitoring a space rock that’s expected to approach Earth tomorrow. According to the data collected by the agency, the asteroid is big enough to cause a violent explosion in the sky if it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 BF1. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid is currently flying across space and moving towards Earth at an average speed of about 10,000 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of about 118 feet.

2020 BF1 was first observed on Jan. 19. By studying the asteroid’s trajectory, NASA was able to gather data regarding its past and future near-Earth approaches. According to the agency, the last time the asteroid was in Earth’s vicinity was on May 4, 2019. During this time, the space rock approached the planet from a distance of about 0.17141 astronomical units or roughly 16 million miles away.

For its upcoming approach, 2020 BF1 is expected to fly past Earth on Jan. 24 at 12:28 a.m. EST. The asteroid is expected to be about 0.01987 astronomical units or roughly 1.8 million miles from the planet’s center.

The significant change in the asteroid’s distance from Earth indicates that its trajectory was affected by certain factors in space. One of these is the gravitational pull of large cosmic bodies such as planets and moons.

2020 BF1 is classified as an Aten asteroid. According to NASA’s data, the asteroid follows an orbit around Venus. From time to time, its orbit intersects with that of Earth as the planet completes its cycle around the Sun.

If the asteroid’s trajectory changes, there’s a chance it could collide with the planet during its near-Earth intersection. If this happens, it won’t hit the ground and cause an impact event. Since it’s a bit small and not traveling fast enough, the asteroid will burn up in the atmosphere, resulting in a bright and powerful explosion in the sky. Due to its size, the energy that would be released from its mid-air explosion would be equivalent to over 50 atomic bombs.

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