A skyscraper-sized the asteroid At 35,000 mph (56,000 km/h), the cosmic orbiter will pass relatively close to Earth on Thursday (April 6), zooming our planet to about 7.5 times the average distance between Earth and the Moon. NASA (opens in new tab). Fortunately, the meaty space rock will miss our planet by more than a million miles.
Astronomers estimate that the asteroid, named 2023 FM, measures between 393 and 853 feet (120 and 260 meters) in diameter, or about a 40- to 80-story skyscraper. At its closest approach on Thursday afternoon, the asteroid will fly within about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers) of our planet, far away. full moon.
The space rock’s powerful size, combined with its uncomfortably close trajectory, earned it a title Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHA), means a space rock that can measure larger than 460 feet (140 meters) in diameter and can come within 4.65 million miles (7.48 million km) of Earth, according to NASA’s near-Earth-object classification system.
Related: Could an asteroid destroy the earth?
NASA tracks thousands of PHAs, and even a small, unexpected change in an asteroid’s orbit can send it on a fatal crash course with Earth. Astronomers are constantly monitoring and recalculating these orbits – and thankfully, no collision with PHA is likely for at least the next 100 years.
In March, astronomers detected an Olympic swimming pool-sized asteroid called 2023 DW, which initially appeared to be Chances are between 1-600 Collision with Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046 – much higher risk level than average. However, researchers at the European Space Agency have since recalculated the impact risk to 1 in 1,584, meaning that the asteroid Almost guaranteed to miss And scientists are no longer worried about it.
If a large asteroid ever appeared for a direct impact with Earth, humans could prepare to deal with it. In September 2022, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission successfully crashed a spacecraft into a small asteroid called Dimorphos, significantly Changing the direction of the space rock. Although Dimorphos never posed a threat to Earth, the mission proved that redirecting asteroids with rocket impacts is an effective way to defend the planet — as long as astronomers have years (or preferably decades) to plan for impacts, NASA said.