• NASA detected a massive asteroid approaching Earth
  • The approaching asteroid follows an Earth-crossing orbit
  • The asteroid could cause an impact event on Earth

NASA warned that a massive asteroid is currently headed for Earth. Based on the data collected by the agency’s Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid could cause an impact event on Earth if it directly collides with the planet.

The approaching asteroid was identified as 2009 UB95. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is currently traveling across the Solar System and is moving towards Earth at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour.

It has an estimated diameter of 223 feet, making it almost as long as the wingspan of a Boeing 747 plane.

2008 UB95 is classified as a member of the Aten family of asteroids. According to the projection of its orbit, the asteroid follows a wide trajectory around the Sun. It is known to pass in between the orbits of Earth and Mercury, and Earth and Mars. From time to time, 2008 UB95 intersects Earth’s orbit as it goes around the Sun.

As an Earth-crossing asteroid, 2008 UB95 has a chance of hitting Earth if its trajectory slightly changes. Given its size and current speed, the asteroid will most likely not hit the ground and explode in the sky instead.

However, if the asteroid collides with Earth at an impact angle of over 45 degrees, it could penetrate the planet’s atmosphere and hit the ground. If this happens, the asteroid could create a crater that’s less than a mile wide. It would also cause serious destruction to its immediate surroundings.

Due to its size, the impact caused by 2008 UB95 could produce enough energy to destroy a relatively large area such as a town or village.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that the approaching asteroid is expected to miss Earth during its upcoming visit. According to its database, 2008 UB95 will fly past the planet on March 11 at 8:08 am EST. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.04726 astronomical units or roughly 4.4 million miles away.

2008 UB95 is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until March 8, 2021. According to CNEOS, the massive asteroid will fly past Earth from a distance of 0.06122 astronomical units or 5.7 million miles during its future visit.

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