Science/Tech

Something As Big As Mount Everest Is Approaching Earth, NASA Says

NASA has detected a large asteroid nearly the size of Mount Everest moving fast toward Earth. The space rock measures between 1.1 and 2.5 miles wide and has been added to the space agency’s list of potentially hazardous objects. 

The asteroid called 52768 (1998 OR2) was first discovered in 1998. It has been moving at a high speed of 19,461 miles per hour.

After its 22-year journey, 1998 OR2 is expected to reach its closest distance to Earth early in the morning of April 29. The space rock will pass within 3,908,791 miles of the planet, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which monitors near-earth objects that could hit Earth.
 
With its size, speed and projected distance to Earth, 1998 OR2 has been classified as a potentially hazardous object. However, that does not mean that the asteroid is highly likely to hit the planet’s surface.

NASA noted it only added 1998 OR2 to its list of hazardous space rocks because of the chance that it will pass near Earth's orbit. The agency has a different list for potential future Earth impact events.

But if the large asteroid hit Earth, officials said it is "large enough to cause global effects." It is not the first time a giant space rock would fly by the planet. 

NASA reported 2017 the largest asteroid that ever traveled close to Earth, called 3122 Florence (1981 ET3). The same rock is expected to pass again on September 2, 2057, CNN reported Tuesday.

How U.S. Works To Detect Near-Earth Objects

NASA has been working with other federal agencies to monitor and track space objects that could pose a threat to life on Earth. The government also aims to find effective ways to block future collisions.

The space agency aims to launch its new Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile in 2020. The facility was designed to help detect tens of thousands of asteroids that could travel closer to Earth in the future, according to Ed Lu, executive director of the Asteroid Institute and a former NASA astronaut.

"It's an exciting time for planetary defense because we are on the verge of an absolute flood of new observations that will allow us to track 10 times more asteroids than we've ever tracked before," he said.

Asteroid 1998 OR2 A large asteroid called 52768 (1998 OR2), nearly the size of Mount Everest, has been detected moving fast toward Earth and is expected to reach the planet's orbit early in the morning of April 29. Pixabay

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