NASA warned that its impact monitoring system detected a massive asteroid that could hit Earth five years from now. Based on the data collected by the agency’s monitoring system, the approaching asteroid could cause over 160 potential impact events on the planet.

The dangerous asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2007 FT3. Due to its trajectory, the asteroid has been picked up by Sentry, which is the agency’s impact monitoring system. According to NASA, this system catalogs all known near-Earth asteroids that have non-zero impact probabilities with Earth over the next 100 hundred years.

In the case of 2007 FT3, Sentry reported that the asteroid could hit Earth between the years 2024 and 2116. During these years, Sentry recorded a total of 164 potential Earth impacts caused by the asteroid. As noted by the monitoring system, there’s a chance that 2007 FT3 might hit the planet on Oct. 2, 2024.

The asteroid’s potential Earth impact can be attributed to its natural orbit. According to CNEOS, 2007 FT3 is an Apollo asteroid, which means its orbit intersects with that of Earth as these cosmic bodies travel around the Sun. Since 2007 FT3 is an Earth-crossing asteroid, it has been categorized as potentially hazardous.

“Potentially Hazardous Asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth,” CNEOS stated. “Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 [astronomical units] or less and an absolute magnitude of 22.0 or less are considered [potentially hazardous asteroids].”

Based on the data collected by Sentry, the asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 1,115 feet, which makes it almost as tall as the Empire State Building. The monitoring system noted that it could breach Earth’s atmosphere and hit the planet at a velocity of around 46,000 miles per hour.

Given the asteroid’s speed and size, it is certainly capable of causing high levels of destruction if it ends up colliding with Earth. Upon impact, it would create a crater that’s several miles long. The energy that will be released from the asteroid’s explosion would be powerful enough to level an entire city as well as its neighboring areas.

Asteroid Impacts A new report indicates that a total of 26 nuclear-level asteroid impacts have hit Earth since 2000. Photo: Donald Davis