• NASA detected an asteroid approaching Earth
  • 2020 KP6 follows an Earth-intersecting orbit
  • The asteroid is big enough to cause an impact event but it will safely zip past Earth during its upcoming flyby

NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system has detected a massive asteroid that’s expected to approach Earth on Tuesday (June 16). Based on the data gathered by the agency, the incoming asteroid is about as big as the wingspan of a Boeing 747 plane.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 KP6. As noted by CNEOS, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of 223 feet. It is currently flying across space toward Earth at a speed of over 24,000 miles per hour.

2020 KP6 was first observed on May 17. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA learned that the asteroid follows an elongated orbit around the Sun. According to a diagram created by NASA showing the asteroid’s trajectory, 2020 KP6’s orbit extends beyond that of Mars.

From time to time, the asteroid intersects the path of Earth as it completes its cycle around the Sun. Due to its natural Earth-crossing orbit, 2020 KP6 has been classified as an Apollo asteroid.

Given the asteroid’s size and current speed, there’s a chance that it might cause an impact event if it ends up on a direct collision course with the planet. Due to its size, the energy from its impact could be powerful enough to destroy a large area such as a town.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that 2020 KP6 is not in danger of colliding with Earth during its upcoming flyby. As noted by the agency, the asteroid is expected to zip past the planet from a safe distance.

According to CNEOS, 2020 KP6 will fly past the planet on June 16 at 5:33 a.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will zoom by Earth from a distance of about 0.00924 astronomical units or roughly 869,000 miles away.

2020 KP6 is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until May 14, 2063. According to NASA, the asteroid is expected to approach Earth from a much farther distance during its future visit. As indicated in the agency’s database, the asteroid will fly past the planet from a distance of 0.42315 astronomical units or 39 million miles in its future flyby.

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