• NASA detected a massive asteroid approaching Earth
  • 2020 JX1 follows an Earth-crossing natural orbit
  • The asteroid is capable of causing an impact event but will safely zip past Earth in its upcoming flyby

NASA is currently monitoring a massive asteroid that’s approaching Earth. According to the data collected by the agency, the incoming asteroid is larger than the Statue of Liberty.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 JX1. CNEOS estimated that the space rock measures about 328 feet wide, making it larger than the Big Ben clock tower in London.

According to CNEOS, the asteroid is expected to approach Earth at a speed of over 11,000 miles per hour. 2020 JX1 was first observed on May 14 earlier this year. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA was able to create an orbit diagram for the asteroid.

As indicated in the diagram, 2020 JX1’s trajectory extends beyond the orbit of Mars. From time to time, the asteroid intersects Earth's path as it completes its cycle around the Sun. Due to its Earth-crossing orbit and since it has an orbital larger than that of the planet, 2020 JX1 has been classified as an Apollo asteroid.

Generally, Apollo asteroids are capable of directly colliding with Earth due to the nature of their orbits. Given 2020 JX1’s size, this asteroid could cause an impact event on Earth if it ends up colliding with the planet.

If this asteroid hits Earth, it could create a crater that’s almost a mile wide. The initial blast from the impact would be powerful enough to destroy a large area such as a city. If it ends up hitting the ocean, the asteroid could trigger tsunamis that could affect nearby coastal regions.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that 2020 JX1 is not in danger of causing an impact on Earth. As noted by the agency, the asteroid is expected to fly safely past the planet during its upcoming visit.

According to CNEOS, 2020 JX1 is expected to approach Earth on Monday (June 29) at 12:09 a.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.00850 astronomical units or roughly 790,000 miles from the planet’s center. It is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until May 25, 2032.

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