KEY POINTS

  • NASA detected a massive asteroid approaching Earth this week
  • The approaching space rock is classified as an Apollo asteroid
  • The asteroid is large enough to cause an impact event on Earth

NASA warned that a massive asteroid is set to approach Earth this week. According to the data gathered by the agency, the approaching asteroid is big enough and moving fast enough to cause an impact event on Earth if it hits the planet.

The incoming asteroid has been identified as 2020 DZ1. According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 312 feet, making it slightly bigger than the Big Ben clock tower in London.

CNEOS noted that this asteroid is currently flying across the Solar System and moving towards Earth at a speed of over 31,500 miles per hour.

NASA officially classified 2020 DZ1 as an Apollo asteroid. This means that like the other asteroids that belong to this group, 2020 DZ1 has a dangerous natural orbit that occasionally intersects Earth’s path as it makes its way around the Sun.

The approaching asteroid’s natural orbit indicates that it has a chance of colliding with the planet. If this happens, the asteroid would most likely cause an impact event on Earth due to its size and speed. The blast from its impact could be powerful enough to affect a large area such as a populated city.

According to CNEOS, 2020 DZ1 is expected to cross Earth’s path on Feb. 27 at 3:07 pm EST. During this time, the asteroid will intersect Earth’s orbit from a distance of about 0.01905 astronomical units, which is equivalent to around 1.8 million miles away.

After the asteroid’s near-Earth visit, 2020 DZ1 will approach Mars. According to the information collected by NASA regarding the asteroid’s trajectory, 2020 DZ1 will fly past the Red Planet on Aug. 2, 2020. It is expected to approach the planet from a distance of 0.04738 astronomical units or around 4.4 million miles away.

NASA noted that the asteroid is not expected to return to Earth’s vicinity until July 30, 2089. During this time, the agency predicted that the asteroid would zip past Earth from a very safe distance of 0.22332 astronomical units or around 21 million miles away.

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