A large, pyramid-sized asteroid is expected to shoot past Earth on Sunday morning, NASA scientists have announced. The asteroid is believed to be quite massive, boasting an estimated diameter of as much as 556.7 feet. The rock is traveling at speeds of a little over 33,700 mph and will approach Earth in the late hours of the morning, zooming past us at 9:55 a.m. ET. NASA assures that the encounter with the hefty asteroid will be a perfectly harmless one, as the object will miss Earth by 3.6 million miles.
According to a report released yesterday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the space rock is an Apollo-type asteroid dubbed 2020 BR10. The near-Earth asteroid was first spotted a little over a month ago, on January 17. The object has been carefully monitored for a period of 34 days, during which time NASA scientists studied its orbital path to determine how close the rock would come to the planet’s surface. The JPL team performed 54 observations to suss out the asteroid’s orbit around the sun and calculated that the space rock will pass within a safe distance from Earth equal to 15 times that to the moon.
“Scientists determine the orbit of an asteroid by comparing measurements of its position as it moves across the sky to the predictions of a computer model of its orbit around the Sun,” explains NASA.
“The more observations that are used, and the longer the period over which those observations are made, the more accurate is the calculated orbit and the predictions that can be made from it.”
The asteroid is among the largest to traipse through our corner of space since the beginning of 2020. The rock is 1.2 times larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, and stands 1.8 times taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York. However, 2020 BR10 pales in comparison to the enormous 3,250-foot asteroid that zoomed past Earth on February 15.
Orbital data gathered by the JPL team revealed that asteroid 2020 BR10 circles the sun once every 2.56 years, occasionally passing by Earth, Venus, and Mars as it orbits the giant star. Today’s flyby won’t be its first trip to our corner of space. The rock previously visited Earth in 2007, when it buzzed the planet from a staggering 46.4 million miles away. Before that, the asteroid swung by Earth in 1997, creeping in as close as 1.2 million miles.
The rock will make a quick pass by Venus in 2022 and return for another trip past Earth in 2025. After that, the asteroid will disappear for more than two decades, making its next flyby of Earth in 2048.