A massive asteroid thought so be so large that it could dwarf the Great Pyramid of Giza is making its way toward planet Earth and will reach our vicinity next week. However, there’s no reason to sound the alarms, as the formidable space rock will be performing a safe – albeit close – flyby of Earth, harmlessly passing by our home world at a great distance from the planet’s surface.
The asteroid in question is known as 2008 KV2 and is a long-time traveler through our corner of the solar system. As its name suggests, the space rock was discovered in 2008 and has been kept under close observation by NASA ever since. After studying its orbital path around the sun, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have pinpointed the dates of its close approaches to planet Earth – going back in time to the year 1900 and stretching for up to three centuries, until the year 2199.
Based on its proximity to our planet, asteroid 2008 KV2 has been classified as a near-Earth object (NEO.) As NASA explains, a NEO “is an asteroid or comet whose orbit brings it into or through a zone between approximately 91 million and 121 million miles from the sun, meaning that it can pass within about 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.”
While that may sound like an incredibly vast distance in terrestrial terms, by cosmic standards it’s a mere stone’s throw away. As such, whenever a NEO wanders through our neck of the cosmic woods, the encounter is labeled as a “close Earth approach.”
In the case of asteroid 2008 KV2, its flybys of planet Earth have been extremely frequent, sometimes occurring on a yearly basis, and will continue to follow the same pattern for at least 180 years to come.
According to NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid is estimated to be anywhere between 492 feet and 1,082 feet across. At the lower end of that size estimate, the space rock is still larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. At 1,082-foot wide, the behemoth would be big enough to fit the iconic Egyptian pyramid 2.3 times over.
Just like the giant 984-foot space rock that is expected to shoot past Earth tomorrow, as recently covered by The Inquisitr, asteroid 2008 KV2 is an Aten-type asteroid and has been labeled as a “potentially hazardous asteroid.”
As an Aten asteroid, the imposing space rock has the potential of being “Earth crossing,” notes NASA. This means that it can not only approach our planet but also occasionally cross Earth’s orbit.
Meanwhile, the more ominous designation of “potentially hazardous asteroid” (PHA) has to do with its towering size and proximity to our planet. In order to qualify as a PHA, an asteroid has to measure at least 460 feet in diameter and follow an orbital path that brings it within 4.66 million miles of Earth’s orbit. And, based on a recent report from the JPL, the massive asteroid will approach Earth just under that distance on its upcoming flyby next week.
Currently making its way toward us through the vastness of space, asteroid 2008 KV2 will pay Earth a visit next Thursday. The gargantuan space rock is expected to zoom past our planet on June 27, coming in for its close approach at 6:01 p.m. ET.
During its close brush with planet Earth, the gigantic asteroid will be hurtling past us at breakneck speeds of more than 25,400 mph, or over 33 times the speed of sound.
While a close encounter with a 1,082-foot space rock would understandably be unnerving to say the least, NASA assures that the asteroid’s passage won’t pose any threat to our planet. In fact, during its so-called “close Earth approach,” asteroid 2008 KV2 will only come within 4.22 million miles of the planet’s surface. To put that into perspective, that’s 17.70 times the distance to the moon.
The massive asteroid will return in 2022, when it will visit planet Earth on two separate occasions – in early April and late October. Its first flyby of the year will bring it within a staggering 8.9 million miles of Earth. During its second approach, 2008 KV2 will buzz Earth from even farther away, passing at a fantastic distance of nearly 44.7 million miles of our planet.