NASA spots ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ approaching Earth this weekend

Updated: 2020-03-06 12:53:40

A planet-killer asteroid will approach the Earth this weekend, International Business Times reported, citing data from U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The asteroid, labeled a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid” by NASA, is set to pass over the planet from a distance of around 3.6 million miles away on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 6.05 a.m. EST.

NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) estimated that the asteroid has an incredible size of around 3,250 feet in diameter, making it larger than the Burj Dubai, the tallest building on Earth.

CNEOS’ database indicates that the incoming asteroid is currently traveling toward the Earth at a speed of almost 34,000 miles per hour. A collision would likely trigger a nuclear winter and mass extinction. Luckily, it will miss the planet by a few million miles.

The asteroid, identified as 163373 (2002 PZ39), is an Apollo asteroid, which means it intersects Earth’s path around the Sun from time to time.

Due to its dangerous orbit and massive size, it is defined as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth.

Following an Earth-crossing orbit, the asteroid has a chance of colliding with the Earth every time it passes the planet.

If 163373 (2002 PZ39) hits the planet, its initial blast would instantly kill millions, then its explosion would trigger a global nuclear winter that could last for years. The harsh environmental changes triggered by the collide could lead to the mass extinction of different species.

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