• NASA is tracking an asteroid that will fly past Earth on Monday
  • 2020 PC follows an Earth-intersecting orbit
  • The asteroid is not big enough to cause an impact event

NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system is currently monitoring an asteroid that’s expected to fly past Earth this week. As indicated in the data gathered by the agency, the incoming asteroid will intersect Earth’s orbit.

The asteroid was spotted by NASA through its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). The agency identified the asteroid as 2020 PC.

According to CNEOS, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 49 feet. Given its size, the asteroid is slightly bigger than the letters of the Hollywood sign, which stand 45 feet tall. CNEOS estimated that 2020 PC would approach Earth at a speed of over 4,000 miles per hour.

2020 PC was first observed on Aug. 1. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory learned that the asteroid has a smaller orbital axis than Earth. Occasionally, as it makes its way around the Sun, the space rock crosses Earth’s path.

Due to its orbital axis and Earth-intersecting trajectory, 2020 PC was classified as an Aten asteroid.

Despite its planet-crossing orbit, 2020 PC is not in danger of colliding with Earth anytime soon. However, if it ends up on a collision course with the planet, it will most likely not cause an impact event due to its size.

Instead of hitting the ground and creating a massive crater, 2020 PC will probably burn up in Earth’s atmosphere and trigger a powerful explosion in the sky. Based on previous cases of asteroid airbursts, the energy that would be released by 2020 PC’s mid-air explosion could be equivalent to multiple atomic bombs.

Although the bulk of the blast’s energy would be absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, the explosion could still be powerful enough to damage hundreds to thousands of buildings on the ground.

2020 PC is expected to cross Earth’s orbit on Monday at 10:33 p.m. EDT. CNEOS noted that the approaching asteroid will fly past Earth at a safe distance of 0.00790 astronomical units, which is equivalent to around 734,000 miles.

Its next near-Earth approach is expected to happen on June 6, 2029. During this time, the asteroid will zip past Earth at a distance of 0.04114 astronomical units or 3.8 million miles.

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