A giant asteroid four times the size of the Eiffel Tower is likely to pass close to Earth, NASA says.
A giant asteroid up to 1.3 kilometers or 4,265 feet in diameter is likely to come relatively close to Earth next month. Named 138971 (2001 CB21), the asteroid is estimated to be four times the size of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Spacereference.org has reported that the asteroid 2001 CB21 will pass Earth on March 4 at about 3:00 a.m. ET. It is estimated to travel at more than 26,800 miles per hour. The asteroid is classified as “potentially dangerous” by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), but it doesn’t appear to pose any danger of hitting us in the near future unless something drastic happens to cause it to change course.
Although the asteroid has been labeled as potentially dangerous by NASA, in reality it will be more than five million miles away, which is more than 10 times the distance from the moon to Earth. However, on a cosmic scale, this kind of distance is in no way considered great.
Earlier, on January 30, Gianluca Masi, an astronomer with the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, captured an image of the 2001 CB21 with an Earth-based telescope. At that time, it was more than 21.5 million miles from Earth.
According to the report, 2001 CB21 orbits the sun once every 384 days, which is almost equal to the Earth’s own orbital period. Its large size makes it larger than about 97 percent of known asteroids, but it is small compared to large asteroids, which are roughly comparable in size to the Golden Gate Bridge.
According to CNEOS, the asteroids are classified as “potentially dangerous” based on their potential to make “imminent close approaches” to Earth. In particular, the asteroid less than about 500 feet in diameter cannot get closer to us than about 4.6 million miles, and therefore it will not fall into the category of potentially dangerous asteroids (PHA).
Last month, another PH asteroid, PC1 from 1994, flew past Earth at a distance of about 1.2 million miles.
Meanwhile, NASA is working on asteroid defense projects such as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) to prevent humanity from attacking an asteroid. As the name suggests, a NASA spacecraft will attempt to divert an asteroid from its course deep in space. The success of this experiment will be a big plus for scientists in their search for a viable solution in case an asteroid is found that will actually crash into Earth. Asteroid crashes have happened many times in Earth’s history and are blamed for the extinction of dinosaurs.