• NASA detected an asteroid approaching Earth
  • The incoming asteroid is as big as a building
  • 2020 JD2 follows an Earth-crossing orbit

NASA’s asteroid tracking system is monitoring a near-Earth object that’s currently approaching the planet. According to the data collected by the agency, the asteroid will intersect Earth’s orbit during its upcoming approach.

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has identified the incoming asteroid as 2020 JD2. As noted by the agency, this asteroid measures about 154 feet wide, which means it is as big as the Chicago Water Tower.

CNEOS indicated that 2020 JD2 is currently moving across the Solar System towards Earth at a speed of over 21,000 miles per hour.

The approaching asteroid was first observed on May 15. Through follow-up observations, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was able to identify the orbital path that 2020 JD2 follows.

According to the agency’s orbit diagram for 2020 JD2, the asteroid follows an elongated path around the Sun. Its orbit extends beyond that of Mars and almost crosses into Jupiter’s path.

From time to time, 2020 JD2 intersects Earth’s trajectory as the planet moves around the Sun. Due to its Earth-crossing natural orbit, 2020 JD2 has been classified as a member of the Apollo family of asteroids.

Earth-intersecting asteroids pose a threat to the planet since they can directly pass through its orbit. This means that this type of asteroid has a chance of directly colliding with Earth. In the case of 2020 JD2, a collision with this asteroid would lead to an impact event on Earth due to its size.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that 2020 JD2 is not in danger of hitting Earth during its upcoming visit. It also has not detected any future collisions from this asteroid.

According to the agency, 2020 JD2 is expected to cross Earth’s path on May 19 at 8:34 a.m. EDT. As it cuts through the planet’s orbital path, the asteroid will safely fly past Earth from a distance of 0.02558 astronomical units, which is equivalent to about 2.4 million miles away.

2020 JD2 is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until June 6, 2049. During this time, the asteroid will approach the planet from a distance of about 0.23200 astronomical units or around 22 million miles from Earth’s center.

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