NASA Tracking Huge 1,000+ Foot-Wide Asteroid Speeding Towards Earth

NASA is monitoring one of this year's biggest asteroids, which is projected to make a "Near-Earth Approach" before the end of this month.

According to measurements from CNEOS - NASA's center for calculating asteroid and comet trajectories – the massive space rock, named 418135 (2008 AG33), is estimated to measure between 1,083 and 2,428 feet in diameter.

According to NASA's most accurate figure, the rock is more than five times the size of the 443-foot London Eye, and even at its smallest size, it would be higher than the Eiffel Tower.

At that magnitude, it would inflict extensive destruction if it collided with the Earth, but fortunately for mankind, it will pass past us at a distance of almost two million miles at its closest approach.

For astronomers, it's a tight call – but nothing to worry about for the rest of us.

This is fortunate since we now lack the capability to protect ourselves against a "city-killer" asteroid.

At its closest approach, the 2008 AG33 is expected to move at an astonishing 23,200 miles per hour - more than 10 times the speed of a bullet.

Even though the asteroid is likely to pass us by without issue on this occasion, NASA has classified it as a "potentially hazardous object" due to its size of more than 450 feet and proximity to the Earth of 4.6 million miles.

While none of the known potentially hazardous objects are currently on a collision course with our planet, CNEOS director Paul Chodas said that their paths "come close enough to Earth's that it is possible that over many centuries and millennia they will evolve into Earth-crossing orbits."

“So it is prudent to keep tracking these asteroids for decades to come,” he said, “to study how their orbits might be evolving."

Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, has said that the threat of a massive asteroid strike wiping out civilization is one reason we should colonize Mars.

In an interview with TED talk boss Chris Anderson, Musk explained that he’s deliberately keeping the price of the one-way trip low: “We want to make it available for anyone who wants to go” to Mars, he said.

Musk cautions, though, that even with the $100,000 payment, the first Mars colonists would have to rough it. “It will not be luxurious,” he says.

Constructing the first city on Mars will be a "dangerous, cramped, difficult, and a hard job."

Reference(s): NASA

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