There's a big-enough-to-crush-the-Earth asteroid passing right by our planet this Tuesday and for anyone hoping for the end of the world, this isn't the one. This could've been a big disastrous moment. "It is the first time since 1976 that an object of this size has passed this closely to the Earth," said Scott Fisher, a National Science Foundation program director, explained Reuters.
NASA provides a nifty GIF, illustrating the trajectory of the asteroid. As you can see, it indeed sneaks right into Earth's orbit just missing both our planet and its moon. But it will only get as close as 201,700 miles. To give an idea of what that means in Armageddon terms: The circumference of the entire world is 24,901.4611 miles; the scary asteroid is 10 times further away than that.
An asteroid doesn't have to hit a planet to cause damage. Like any object, the asteroid has a gravitational pull. Since this orbiting Death Star is particularly big, it has a strong gravitational pull that could potentially mess with stuff on Earth. Fortunately, NASA assures that this one will have zero effect whatsoever. "The gravitational influence of the asteroid will have no detectable effect on anything here on Earth, including our planet's tides or tectonic plates," explains D.C. Agle on NASA's Asteroid and Comet Watch.
People who'd prefer a big rock not crash into the planet should be pleased. Oh and a few scientists who study these things are excited for the opportunity to learn about space, Fisher explains. "It gives us a great -- and rare -- chance to study a near-Earth object like this," he said.
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