• NASA detected an asteroid approaching Earth on Monday
  • The approaching asteroid is bigger than the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • 2020 GA3 follows an Earth-crossing orbit

NASA’s asteroid tracking system has detected a massive near-Earth object that’s expected to approach Earth on Monday (April 20). According to the agency, the approaching asteroid follows a natural trajectory that intersects Earth’s orbit.

The incoming asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 GA3. As indicated in the agency’s database, this space rock measures about 194 feet wide, which makes it bigger than the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

CNEOS estimated that 2020 GA3 would approach Earth at an average speed of almost 40,000 miles per hour.

According to NASA, 2020 GA3 was first observed on April 15. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA classified it as an Apollo asteroid. As noted by the agency, 2020 GA3 follows a very wide orbit around the Sun. Occasionally, the asteroid reaches beyond the orbit of Mars.

Like other asteroids that belong to the Apollo family, 2020 GA3 is known to intersect Earth’s orbit as the planet completes its cycle around the Sun. These Earth-intersecting flybys usually occur when the asteroid is approaching its closest distance from the center of the Solar System.

Through observations on its trajectory, NASA was able to determine 2020 GA3’s history of near-Earth approaches. According to the agency, the asteroid’s first recorded near-Earth flyby occurred on Sept. 2, 1966.

During this time, the asteroid flew past the planet from a distance of about 0.35328 astronomical units, which is equivalent to almost 33 million miles away.

According to CNEOS, 2020 GA3 is expected to cross Earth’s path on April 20 at 5:50 p.m. EDT. As the asteroid flies past Earth, it will be about 0.02076 astronomical units or around 1.9 million miles from the planet’s center.

Based on NASA’s projection of the asteroid’s orbit, 2020 GA3 will not return to Earth’s neighborhood until Oct. 28, 2029. During this time, the asteroid will approach Earth from a much farther distance.

According to the agency, the asteroid will pass by Earth from a distance of 0.09900 astronomical units or around 9.2 million miles during its approach in less than a decade from now.

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