MILE-LONG Monster Asteroid Heads Towards Earth
The space rock, called 2004 BO41, is estimated at anywhere from 700 metres to a mile in length.
The celestial body, which has been observed since its discovery in 2004, will pass at a relatively comfortable 7.3 million miles, which is still considered a “near Earth pass” by NASA due to the size of the cosmos.
But, whereas, the US space agency is almost certain of the objects orbit, a much smaller asteroid, which is coming in much closer, and on an uncertain flight path, a few days later is being monitored much more closely.
This large asteroid was discovered just a week ago and could devastate a city if it struck earth.
NASA says it is heading towards Earth on “a highly uncertain orbit”.
The space rock is being closely monitored by space agencies across the globe, as it is due to whistle past within just days.
The space rock, which is estimated to be up to 61 metres in length, is predicted to whistle past our planet at 31,000 miles per hour, on September 17, but NASA is not even certain of the time of the pass due to relying on estimated calculations, and could be up to 16 minutes out on the estimated flyby.
The asteroid called 2016 QL44 was only discovered earlier this year and has been monitored by NASA and other agencies ever since because of the uncertain orbit.
Scientists say if an asteroid of 50 metres in length hit a city like London it could cause the damage of several nuclear bombs.
It would not lead to the end of world, but if it struck in a populated area it could cause horrific local destruction, death and injury.
The last similar sized asteroid to enter earth’s atmosphere was the 1908 Tunguska Event which saw a 50-metre lump of extraterrestrial explode above Siberia.
It flattened around 80 million trees and sent a shock wave across Russia measuring five on the Richter scale.
The event is held by scientists as a benchmark for the catastrophic consequence of an asteroid impact with earth.
QL44 is expected to pass by us at 3.6 times the distance from us to the Moon (857,000 miles) on September 17.
Any asteroid that comes within 10 million miles of Earth is considered a “near Earth asteroid” due to the relative closeness that is in terms of the solar system.
So those which are just a few lunar distances are considered extremely close passes.
On top of this, Nasa has given the space rock a condition code of nine – which is the least certain it can be about its orbital route out of any asteroid.
The asteroid, which could be 20 to 61 metres long, has been monitored by the Mt. Lemmon Survey, in the Mount Lemmon Observatory, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, near Tucson, Arizona, which discovered it on August 28.
But it was last observed by the Spacewatch Project Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the the University of Arizona yesterday.
Astronomers are discovering an alarming number of new “near Earth asteroids” on an almost daily basis, as currently we only know where around ten per cent of them are.
Fears of a sudden strike grew after an undetected 19-metre long meteor exploded in the skies above Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013, destroying buildings and injuring 1,000 people
Interest in asteroids is at its highest point ever following the start last year of the annual World Asteroid Day and after Professor Brian Cox said there was an asteroid with our name on it and it was a matter of “when not if” one hit.
Last year Express.co.uk revealed there is currently no trialled technology proven to work against an impending hit, although experts are looking at possible deflection techniques using spacecraft to affect the course of a monster rock through gravitational pull.
And, a year ago, NASA was forced to quell growing fears that a monster asteroid was set to crash into our planet destroying humanity last September, after conspiracy theorists’ claims went viral online.
NASA regularly monitors asteroids the size of buses, tower blocks and jumbo jets passing by near to our planet.
But, despite so many new discoveries, NASA says it is unlikely anything will actually hit for several hundred years.
A spokesman said: “NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small.
“In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.
“NASA has also made asteroid detection a top priority, and are developing strategies for identifying asteroids that could pose a risk to our planet.”