A huge asteroid with a diameter twice that of the height of London’s Shard skyscraper is to hurtle past Earth next month, sky watchers say.
But don’t head for the doomsday bunkers quite yet.
The asteroid identified by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) is going to fly past quite safely.
The object, identified as 2000 QW7, has an estimated diameter of 2,133 feet, and will fly past at a safe distance of 3.3 million miles on September 14.
We’re all going to be perfectly safe, there’s no chance of it hitting Earth, and no need to be alarmed.
It’s an Amor asteroid, which orbits Earth and the Sun, but whose orbit does not cross that of Earth.
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Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk pointed out on Twitter this week that Earth currently has no defence against ‘killer’ asteroids.
Replying to a Tweet about the asteroid Apophis (which will give Earth a narrow scrape in 2029), Musk pointed out that there is, currently, no defence system to protect our planet.
Great name! Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense. https://t.co/XhY8uoNNax— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2019
Musk said, ‘Wouldn’t worry about this particular one, but a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense.’
But don’t fret too much: NASA is looking into what to do.
The space agency has already taken steps towards a real solution if an asteroid is hurtling towards Earth - a mission to knock potential doomsday asteroids onto less-threatening flight paths.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) has just entered the final design and assembly phase and will launch into space between 2020 and 2021.
The idea is that a fridge-sized DART spacecraft will hit the asteroid faster than a bullet - and change its orbit.