Asteroid the size of Empire State Building may zoom past Earth this weekend
An asteroid as big as the Empire State Building is hurtling toward Earth and is expected to whiz by Saturday in a relative close call, according to reports.
Named 2002 NN4, the giant space rock is estimated to be between 820 to 1,870 feet in diameter, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CBS News reported.
The Big Apple’s iconic building on West 34th Street is more than 1,400 feet tall.
The asteroid, which is traveling at more than 20,000 mph, would inflict catastrophic damage on our planet if it hit, physics Professor Derek Buzasi at Florida Gulf Coast University told USA Today.
It is larger bigger than about 90 percent of asteroids, according to Buzasi, who also likened it to a football stadium.
But thankfully, the asteroid is predicted to stay more than 3 million miles away — or 13 times farther from us than the Moon, NASA told the news outlet.
“In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a (very) safe distance,” wrote Ian J. O’Neill of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Information about 2002 NN4 is listed on NASA’s Center for Earth Object Studies website, which monitors close approaches to our planet.
While it is unlikely for an asteroid to strike anytime soon, scientists gathered at a 2019 conference to discuss how to respond to one massive enough to obliterate a major city.
“All we have to do is change its speed a little faster or a little slower so that when it crosses Earth’s orbit, it crosses either in front of us or behind us,” Dr. Lori Glaze, director of planetary science at NASA, told CBS News.
There are 20,000 asteroids in Earth’s galactic neighborhood and they do occasionally impact, including in 2013, when one slammed into Russia, injuring 1,600 people.
“It doesn’t really keep me up at night,” Glaze told the network.
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