NASA warned that an asteroid is set to dangerously approach Earth tomorrow. If the asteroid collides with the planet, it could create a powerful explosion in the atmosphere.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2019 WH4. Based on the agency’s observations, this asteroid is flying towards Earth at an estimated speed of around 18,000 miles per hour. CNEOS noted that the space rock is about 75 feet wide.

2019 WH4 is officially classified as an Apollo asteroid. According to NASA, Apollo asteroids are known to have very wide orbits within the Solar System. Occasionally, the orbit of an Apollo asteroid intersects with that of Earth since it goes around the Sun.

Due to these intersections, 2019 WH4 has been labeled as a near-Earth object. If this ends up colliding with the planet, it could produce an explosion as powerful as the one created by an asteroid that detonated over Russia in 1908.

According to reports, an asteroid detonated at an altitude of 3 to 6 miles over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Russia. The energy released by its explosion ranged from 15 to 30 megatons of TNT, which is about 1,000 to 2,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb used in World War II.

The explosion created by the asteroid was so powerful that it leveled about 770 square miles of forest. This area is bigger than Butte, which is known as the eighth-largest city in the U.S.

Fortunately, the incident, which has been regarded as the Tunguska Event, happened over a remote region. Three people may have died due to the incident, but the death toll would have been much higher if the asteroid detonated over a populated area.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that 2019 WH4 is not in danger of replicating the Tunguska Event during its upcoming visit. According to the agency, this asteroid is expected to fly past Earth on Dec. 2 at 12:44 am EST. During its near-Earth approach, the asteroid will be about 0.01495 astronomical units or roughly 1.4 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