An asteroid thought to be so large that it could potentially dwarf the Statue of Liberty will swing by Earth today. Known as asteroid 2013 CV83, the space rock is believed to measure as much as 328 feet across and will reach Earth's proximity later this morning. However, there is no reason to panic, assures NASA. The rock will harmlessly pass by our planet, coming within a safe distance of a few million miles of Earth.
Today's close encounter with asteroid 2013 CV83 is not the first time that this particular space rock has made a swift and close approach to Earth – nor will it be the last. The wayfaring asteroid is a frequent traveler through our corner of space, and it regularly passes by Earth about once every six years as it orbits the sun. According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the rock is classified as a near-Earth object (NEO), specifically an Apollo-type asteroid.
As NASA explains, NEOs are celestial objects such as comets or asteroids that orbit somewhere between approximately 91 million and 121 million miles from the sun. This means that in their journey around the sun, NEOs can venture as far as about 30 million miles of Earth's orbit and as close to the planet's surface as a few times the distance to the moon – or even closer.
At the same time, the rock is an Apollo asteroid. This specific classification is closely related to its orbit around the sun and signifies that this particular NEO has the potential of being "Earth-crossing." Named after asteroid 1862 Apollo, space rocks of this class zip around the solar system on an orbital path that occasionally allows them to cross Earth's orbit, NASA says.
As its name suggests, asteroid 2013 CV83 was first discovered six years ago. The rock was originally picked up by NASA asteroid trackers on February 2, 2013 – about four days before it performed a close flyby of Earth. Six and a half years later, the asteroid is now back for another visit and will shoot past Earth just in time for morning coffee.
Hurtling through the void of space at a little over 29,000 mph, the rock is expected to approach Earth at 8:54 a.m. ET. At its closest point to Earth, the asteroid will come within 3.84 million miles of the planet's surface – or about 800,000 miles farther out than it passed during its previous close approach in 2013.
To put that into perspective, 3.84 million miles is about 16 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The asteroid will return for another close approach in 2025. At the time, the rock will buzz Earth from even farther away, only coming within 13.34 million miles of the planet's surface.
Data from NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) places asteroid 2013 CV83 within a size range of between 151 feet and 328 feet in diameter. By comparison, the Statue of Liberty in New York is about 310 feet tall. This means that, at the upper end of NASA's size estimate, the asteroid would be larger than the iconic American landmark.
At 328 feet wide, asteroid 2013 CV83 certainly is a hefty space rock. However, larger asteroids have been known to pass through our cosmic neighborhood without posing any threat to our planet. For instance, a considerably larger, 853-foot Apollo asteroid is due to fly by Earth on Friday, September 13, as previously reported by The Inquisitr. Thought to be so large that it could fit the Great Pyramid of Giza nearly two times over, the giant asteroid will miss Earth by 3.3 million miles.