• NASA detected a small asteroid with an Earth-crossing orbit moving toward the planet's vicinity
  • 2018 BD is not big enough to cause an impact event
  • The asteroid is expected to fly past Earth at a distance of 1.8 million miles on Monday

NASA’s asteroid tracking system has spotted a small space rock that’s currently moving toward Earth. Data collected by the agency revealed that the approaching asteroid will intersect Earth’s orbit.

NASA is monitoring the incoming asteroid through its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). According to the agency, the asteroid is called the 2018 BD. It has an estimated diameter of about 19 feet. CNEOS estimated that the asteroid is currently flying toward Earth at a speed of over 21,000 miles per hour.

2018 BD was first observed on Jan. 18, 2018. After studying the asteroid’s directory, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was able to create an orbit diagram that illustrates the space rock’s flight path.

As indicated in the diagram, the asteroid follows an elongated orbit within the Solar System. From time to time, the asteroid crosses Earth’s path as it completes its cycle around the Sun.

Although the asteroid has an Earth-intersecting orbit, it is not in danger of causing an impact event even if it directly collides with the planet. Given its size, the asteroid will most likely burn up in the atmosphere and explode in the sky instead of hitting the ground.

The energy from the asteroid’s airburst will be equivalent to that of the blast of multiple atomic bombs. However, the airburst will most likely occur at an altitude that’s too high to affect structures and people on the ground.

The last time the asteroid visited Earth’s vicinity was on Nov. 19, 2018. During this time, the asteroid flew past Earth at a distance of 0.33691 astronomical units, which is equivalent to about 31 million miles away.

According to CNEOS, 2018 BD’s next near-Earth approach will happen on Monday at 6:36 p.m. EDT. As indicated in the orbit diagram, the asteroid will intersect Earth’s orbit during its upcoming visit. Fortunately, CNEOS noted that the asteroid will zip past Earth at a safe distance.

The agency noted that 2018 BD will be about 0.01933 astronomical units or about 1.8 million miles from the planet’s center during its visit. It is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until Jan. 20, 2031.

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