Empire State Building-Sized Asteroid to Make Close Approach to Earth

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.02 - 2024 11:50 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Empire State Building-Sized Asteroid to Make Close Approach to Earth.

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Today, Earth will witness a close encounter with a massive asteroid, labeled as 'potentially hazardous' by NASA, set to pass by our planet. As we head into the weekend, an asteroid comparable in size to the Empire State Building is drawing near, though it will fortunately maintain a safe distance from Earth.

NASA's Asteroid Watch has verified that the asteroid, known as 2008 OS7, will bypass Earth by approximately 1.7 million miles on February 2nd, traveling at a velocity of 18.2 km/s, or around 40,700 mph. To put this into perspective, the speed of a bullet ranges from 600 to 2,000 mph, highlighting the asteroid's significant pace.

At the time of writing, the countdown clock reads 4 hours and 19 seconds.

Photo: NASA Asteroid Watch

The dimensions of the asteroid, based on data from NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, are estimated to be between 690 and 1,570 feet in width, making it comparable to the height of the Empire State Building at about 1,250 feet.

Despite the size and speed of this space rock, experts advise against concern. According to Wionews, Martin Barstow, a professor of astrophysics and space science at the University of Leicester, UK, emphasized that not all Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) pose a threat, but those classified as potentially hazardous are certainly NEOs. He clarified that for an asteroid to be considered potentially hazardous, it must have a significant size and brightness, suggesting it could cause regional damage if it were to impact Earth.

Echoing Barstow's sentiments, Minjae Kim, a research fellow at the University of Warwick, downplayed fears regarding asteroid 2008 OS7. She explained that while the asteroid is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid due to its orbit intersecting Earth's, it will not enter Earth's atmosphere and thus does not pose a direct threat. Kim also noted that the asteroid is among the ~2,350 asteroids categorized as PHAs and highlighted the anticipated approach of another PHA, 99942 Apophis, in April 2029.

Asteroids of this nature are generally too faint to be detected by current observational techniques, making them invisible to the naked eye, with only a few exceptions like Pallas and Vesta being observable due to their larger sizes.

As 2008 OS7 makes its close approach, scientists continue to monitor these celestial bodies, ensuring any potential threats are identified well in advance to safeguard our planet.

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