• NASA detected an asteroid moving towards Earth
  • 2020 follows an Earth-intersecting orbit
  • Apollo asteroids were named after a massive near-Earth object

NASA’s asteroid tracking system has detected a near-Earth object that’s currently moving toward Earth. The agency noted that the approaching asteroid is expected to intersect Earth’s orbit on Thursday.

According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the incoming asteroid is known as 2020 PV. It has an estimated diameter of 125 feet and is currently approaching Earth at an average velocity of over 20,000 miles per hour.

2020 PV was first observed on Aug. 10. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the asteroid follows an elongated orbit around the sun that extends beyond the trajectory of Mars. From time to time, 2020 PV crosses the orbits of Earth and Mars as it completes its journey around the sun.

Since it has a wider orbital axis than Earth and intersects the planet’s path, 2020 PV was classified as an Apollo asteroid. This family of Earth-crossing asteroids was named after a massive space rock known as 1862 Apollo.

This asteroid was first discovered on April 24, 1932, by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth of the Heidelberg Observatory. After observing the trajectory of the asteroid, 1862 Apollo was labeled as a near-Earth object, which is a space rock that occasionally flies close to Earth. It became the first asteroid known to cross Earth’s orbit.

1862 Apollo has an estimated diameter of about 1.5 kilometers or almost a mile. Given its massive size, the asteroid is capable of causing a major impact event that can wipe out a huge percentage of the global population if it ends up hitting Earth.

Fortunately, 1862 Apollo is not in danger of colliding with Earth anytime soon. Similarly, 2020 PV is also not expected to hit the planet during its upcoming visit. According to CNEOS, 2020 PV will fly past Earth on Thursday at 4:21 a.m. EDT from a distance of about 0.02727 astronomical units or roughly 2.5 million miles.

After this week’s approach, 2020 PV’s next near-Earth visit will take place on Aug. 2, 2026. During this time, the asteroid will be roughly 0.13088 astronomical units or around 12 million miles from the planet’s center.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay