KEY POINTS

  • An asteroid almost as big as a pyramid is approaching Earth
  • 2020 LS is big enough to cause an impact event
  • Another asteroid will safely fly past Earth on July 4

As the U.S. celebrates the Fourth of July holiday this weekend, Earth will get a flyby from a massive asteroid. According to the data collected by NASA’s automated asteroid tracking system, the approaching space rock is almost as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The incoming asteroid has been detected by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). CNEOS identified the asteroid as 2020 LS. According to the agency, this asteroid is currently approaching Earth at a speed of almost 26,000 miles per hour.

CNEOS estimated that 2020 LS measures about 394 feet wide, making it significantly bigger than the Statue of Liberty.

2020 LS was first observed on June 13. After analyzing its trajectory, NASA learned that the asteroid follows an orbit that extends beyond that of Mars. Its orbit is also known to intersect Earth’s path around the Sun. Due to its natural orbit, 2020 LS has been labeled as an Apollo asteroid.

Given its size and speed, the approaching asteroid is capable of causing an impact event on Earth if it ends up colliding with the planet. The blast from the impact would destroy its immediate surroundings and create a crater that’s almost a mile wide.

Fortunately, the asteroid is not in danger of hitting Earth when it zips past on Independence Day. According to CNEOS, 2020 LS is expected to safely fly past the planet on Saturday (July 4) at 7:48 a.m. EDT. On its upcoming flyby, the asteroid will be about 0.04969 astronomical units or roughly 4.6 million miles away from the planet’s center.

2020 LS is not the only asteroid that will visit Earth’s vicinity on Saturday. Before it flies past the planet, Earth will get another visitor in a much smaller asteroid called 2007 UN12. According to CNEOS, this asteroid measures about 36 feet wide and is moving across space at a speed of over 6,000 miles per hour.

2020 UN12 is expected to approach Earth on Saturday at 4:37 a.m. EDT. Compared to 2020 LS, 2007 UN12 will fly past Earth from a slightly closer distance. According to CNEOS, the asteroid will be about 0.03976 astronomical units or 3.7 million miles from Earth during its upcoming visit.  

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