Scientists have revealed that a high-speed asteroid will streak past our planet at the end of the month.
Measuring 470 meters in diameter, the enormous space rock will pass within 310,000 miles of the Earth – that’s approximately 30 percent further away from us than the orbit of the moon.
Believed to be part of a broken comet, the object will be visible with a telescope as it crosses the constellation Orion and will be the largest known asteroid to fly this close for quite some time.
While the near-miss is good news for amateur astronomers and represents no impact threat, the asteroid’s sudden discovery a mere ten days before its closest approach has raised concerns over mankind’s ability to detect potentially dangerous objects heading in our direction.
While asteroid deflection techniques could make it possible to change the course of a large asteroid while it is still far out in space, such methods would do little good when the object is this close to us.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden summed up this concern during a talk back in 2013.
“From the information we have, we don’t know of an asteroid that will threaten the population of the United States,” he said. “But if it’s coming in three weeks… pray.”