• NASA has detected an asteroid that's currently headed for Earth
  • The approaching asteroid follows an Earth-crossing orbit

NASA has spotted an asteroid that’s expected to approach the planet tomorrow.

The approaching asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2019 YX2. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is currently flying towards Earth at a speed of almost 12,400 miles per hour. The agency estimated that the asteroid has a diameter of around 105 feet.

2019 YX2 is a member of the Apollo family of asteroids. Like other Apollos, 2019 YX2 follows a very wide orbit inside the Solar System. Occasionally, its path would intersect with that of Earth as it moves around the Sun.

Despite its Earth-crossing orbit, there’s no chance 2019 YX2 would be colliding with the planet. However, if an asteroid its size collides with Earth, it will most likely not cause an impact event.

Since the asteroid is fairly small and is not traveling fast enough, the asteroid will probably burn up in the atmosphere and shatter after a huge explosion. Unfortunately, even though the asteroid will not hit the ground, this doesn’t mean that it’s completely harmless.

With a diameter of over a hundred feet, the energy that would be released from an asteroid its size's mid-air explosion could be equivalent to at least 60 atomic bombs. Although the atmosphere would be able to absorb much of the explosion, the remaining energy that would be directed towards Earth could still be powerful enough to cause significant damage.

Fortunately, CNEOS noted that Earth is safe from a possible mid-air explosion form 2019 YX2 for now. According to the agency, this asteroid will approach Earth on Dec. 27 at 4:05 pm EST. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.03262 astronomical units or around 3 million miles from the planet’s center.

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