NASA’s asteroid tracking system has detected a space rock following an Earth-crossing orbit that’s set to approach the planet this Saturday. If the asteroid ends up hitting Earth, it would create a massive explosion in the atmosphere.

The incoming asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2008 EA9. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is currently traveling at an average speed of 4,832 miles per hour. The agency estimated that the asteroid is about 56 feet wide.

2008 EA9 is officially classified as an Apollo asteroid. This means that it has a wide orbit that takes it around the Earth and the Sun. From time to time, the asteroid’s orbit intersects with that of Earth as the planet completes its cycle around the massive star.

Given the asteroid’s size and current speed, it will most likely not reach the ground if it ends up colliding with the planet. Instead, the 2008 EA9 will burn up in the atmosphere and cause a mid-air explosion.

However, this does not automatically mean that the approaching asteroid is completely harmless. After all, it’s almost as big as the asteroid that hit Earth back in 2013.

During that time, an asteroid with a diameter of about 66 feet entered Earth’s atmosphere. As it burned up in the atmosphere, it exploded in the sky over a populated region in Russia known as Chelyabinsk Oblast.

According to reports, the energy released by the asteroid’s mid-air explosion was equivalent to 500 kilotons of TNT, or about 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima, Japan in World War II.

Although Earth’s atmosphere was able to absorb a huge percentage of the explosion’s energy, it was still powerful enough to cause significant damage on the ground. It was reported that the incident damaged around 7,000 buildings in the affected area and left about 1,500 people seriously injured.

Fortunately, 2008 EA9 is not expected to follow the path of the 2013 asteroid according to CNEOS’ data. As indicated in the agency’s database, the asteroid is expected to fly past Earth on Nov. 23 at 10:50 am EST from a relatively safe distance of 0.01562 astronomical units or roughly 1.5 million miles away.

Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. NASA