NASA says that a potentially hazardous asteroid will pass close to Earth this week, The Independent reports. The space agency’s Center of Near-Earth Object Studies says that the asteroid, which is known as 2013 WV44, will pass within 3.3 million kilometers of our planet. It will speed past us at roughly 34 times the speed of sound, or 11.8km per second.
While 3.3 million kilometers isn’t a huge risk to Earth, it is much closer than it sounds, especially when talking about measurements in the cosmos. That said, though, NASA says that it is just one of many potentially hazardous objects which it tracks every single day. Additionally, many of these Near-Earth Objects, also known as NEOs, pose no peril to Earth at all, NASA explained in a blog post.
The asteroid is expected to breeze past our planet on Wednesday, June 28. As I noted above, there is very little chance of any asteroid the size of these potentially hazardous asteroids hitting our planet. That’s because many of them have orbits that bring them close to our planet but never directly in line with it. There is one asteroid that may hit Earth in the 2040s, but even that one isn’t a certainty.
Additionally, NASA is working on defensive systems to help reduce the possible implications any asteroid on a collision course with Earth could have. Last year we saw the agency’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission successfully change an asteroid’s orbit, which could be used in the future to help push an asteroid with a collision course just enough to avoid hitting our planet.
NASA says that insight from that DART spacecraft collision will also help them prepare for future asteroids that could threaten life on Earth. However, this massive asteroid passing by Earth on Wednesday isn’t a risk at all, so we don’t need to worry about it.