The colossal asteroid is closing-in on Earth’s orbit to make a “close approach” on the afternoon of Saturday, January 18. NASA’s asteroid trackers expect the rock to show appear around 2.29pm GMT (7.29am EST) tomorrow.
NASA’s trackers have dubbed the asteroid 2009 BH2 following is discovery more than 10 years ago.
First spotted on January 17, 2009, Asteroid BH2 is an Aten-type NEO or near-Earth object.
Aten-type rocks race around the Sun on trajectories similar to Asteroid 2062 Aten.
NEOs are all comets and asteroids trapped in the inner confines of the solar system.
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NASA has warned these space rocks occasionally cross paths with Earth – sometimes to a devastating effect.
Asteroid BH2 is flying towards our planet tomorrow at speeds of about 17.94km per second.
In other words, NASA estimates the rock is flying through space at breakneck speeds of about 40,130mph (65,583km/h).
Based on NASA’s observations, the rock is also estimated to measures somewhere in the range of 288ft to 656ft (88m to 200m) across.
At the upper end of NASA’s scale, the asteroid is more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty in New York City, US.
The asteroid is also comparable in height to the Seattle Space Needle, US, and St Paul’s Cathedral in London, UK.
A 10m body typically has the kinetic energy of about five nuclear warheads
At the lower end of NASA’s scale, the space rock is still formidable and can be compared to 10 London double-decker buses lined up in a row.
Any impactor within this range could be absolutely catastrophic if it hit a populated urban area.
NASA said: “A 10m body typically has the kinetic energy of about five nuclear warheads of the size dropped on Hiroshima, however, and the shock wave it creates can do considerable damage even if nothing but comparatively small fragments survive to reach the ground.
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“Many fragments of a 10m iron meteoroid will reach the ground.”
But the good news is the asteroid will give Earth a wide berth tomorrow afternoon.
At its closest, NASA predicts Asteroid BH2 will approach Earth from distance of about 0.03749 astronomical units.
Astronomers describe just one astronomical unit as the distance from our planet to the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
Asteroid BH2 is expected to cut this down to just 3.48 million miles (5.6 million km) tomorrow.
To put the approach into perspective, the distance involved is about 14.59 times as far as the Moon is.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, NEOs can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
After tomorrow’s flyby, the asteroid will next visit the planet on January 30, 2023.
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