NASA warned that an asteroid almost twice as big the Eiffel Tower in France will approach Earth this month. Based on the agency’s data, the asteroid is big enough to wipe out an entire major city if it collides with Earth.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 481394 (2006 SF6). According to CNEOS, the asteroid is currently barreling towards Earth at a speed of almost 18,000 miles per hour. The agency estimated that the space rock has a diameter of around 2,034 feet.

481394 (2006 SF6) has been classified as an Aten asteroid. Similar to other asteroids that belong to this category, 481394 (2006 SF6) is Earth-crossing. This means that from time to time, the asteroid’s orbit intersects with that of Earth. This usually occurs when the asteroid is near its farthest point from the Sun.

Based on CNEOS’ projections of the asteroid’s trajectory, which dates back to 1900, 481394 (2006 SF6) visits Earth’s vicinity at an average rate of twice per year. Due to its frequent visits, combined with its massive size and natural Earth-crossing orbit, 481394 (2006 SF6) has been labeled as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

“Potentially Hazardous Asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth,” CNEOS explained in a statement.

“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],” the agency continued.

As a potentially hazardous asteroid, 481394 (2006 SF6) has a chance of colliding with Earth during one of its visits. If this happens, the asteroid would cause a major impact event on Earth. The resulting impact from the asteroid would release high levels of energy that could wipe out an entire major city.

According to CNEOS, 481394 (2006 SF6) next visit will take place on Nov. 20 at 7:01 p.m. EST. During its approach, the agency estimated that the asteroid will be about 0.02886 astronomical units or roughly 2.7 million miles from the planet’s center.

asteroids_passing_earth Over 17,000 near-Earth asteroids remain undetected in our solar neighborhood. Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA