NASA has detected a massive asteroid with a width of 120 meters, which should pass by Earth on Tuesday.
The rock will reach the general vicinity of our planet tomorrow. Current data infers that the asteroid will pass by Earth at a speed of 30,900 miles per hour and a distance of a few million miles from the surface of the planet.
While the distance may not seem to be too small, that is not the case when astronomical units are used. The asteroid, which is called 2019 TR2, was discovered at the start of October. The previously-mentioned width of 120 meters or 394 feet allowed researchers to classify it as an Apollo-level object. Apollo-class asteroids tend to follow very wide elliptical orbits that take them around the Sun and near Earth.
If a passing asteroid gets too close to a planet, it can be influenced by the gravitational field, and this can lead to an impact. An impact that involves an asteroid as large as 2019 TR2 could deal wide-scale damage.
In the last three weeks, the space agency tracked the asteroid as it moves, collecting valuable information about the rock, including the position of the asteroid in the sky and future trajectories. Over 76 observations were recorded within the timeframe.
The asteroid didn’t pass through this section of the solar system in the past, but it is thought that it will return up to four times, with the next flyby taking place in 2023. In 2138 it will pass by Earth at a distance of 5.2 million miles.
Several asteroids have passed by Earth at a close distance in recent months, and similar events will take place in the future. NASA and other space agencies are also hard at work on the development of countermeasures, which should protect Earth against potential impacts.