An asteroid bigger than St Paul’s Cathedral will enter Earth's orbit next week

Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 11:18 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th November 2020, 1:35 pm

NASA is currently tracking an asteroid potentially bigger than St Paul’s Cathedral, which is expected to zoom past Earth on Saturday 7 November.

Named Asteroid 2020 TY1, the Apollo asteroid is on course to pass our planet at more than 13 kilometres per second, which is the equivalent to 29,000 miles per hour.

An Apollo asteroid is a comet or asteroid which crosses the orbit of the Earth as it passes through space.

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Will it hit Earth?

The asteroid is being monitored by NASA’s centre for Near Earth Object Studies, with the space rock expected to pass within 1.3 astronomical units of Earth,

The current estimation sees the asteroid passing our planet at a distance of 0.037 astronomical units. In everyday terms, the asteroid will pass at 3,498,742 Earth miles. This means it is highly unlikely to collide with Earth.

According to The Sky Live - a website dedicated to tracking objects in space - Asteroid 2020 TY1 is confirmed as not being expected to impact Earth in the near future.

The asteroid is currently based in the Orion constellation, and is 6,716,401 kilometres from our planet.

Has an asteroid hit Earth before?

This isn’t the first time our planet has faced a near miss from an asteroid in recent years.

In August, Asteroid 2020 QL2 flear less than 2,000 miles from Earth. The giant rock was 120 metres in diameter - roughly the size of a football pitch.

Last year, the largest asteroid to pass as close to the Earth in a century “slipped through” NASA’s detection systems. The news was revealed through internal NASA emails, showing that Asteroid 2019 OK nearly passed by undetected.

The documents were obtained by Buzzfeed via a freedom of information request. The object came roughly within 73,000 km of Earth, after the object avoided a series of NASA capture nets “for a bunch of different reasons.”

The largest space rock to hit planet Earth in the last 10 years was the Chelyabinsk meteor, which was estimated to have an initial diameter of 17 to 20 metres and a mass of roughly 10,000 tonnes.

The meteor entered into Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on 15 February 2013, and caused roughly £30 million of damage.