Mini Asteroid Flies By Earth Wednesday

A miniature asteroid is flying by Earth on Wednesday, just one week after astronomers first discovered the small space object.

Scientists say that the space rock will pass by our planet and the moon around 6:20 pm EDT. Despite its close approach, the asteroid is small enough and far enough away that it poses no risk to people.

Astronomers first discovered the asteroid, named 2013 RZ53, on September 13, reports Yahoo! News. The space rock is just three to 10 feet across and will pass more than 148,000 miles away from Earth's surface at its closes approach.

Even if it hit the Earth, the mini asteroid would likely burn up in the atmosphere before it had the chance of hitting the ground. Because they discovered it before it passed by, Researchers were able to piece together its trajectory.

The asteroid is part of the Apollo family of near-Earth asteroids. The group of space rocks is the origin of a massive meteor that exploded over Russia earlier this year.

However, NBC News notes that the Russian meteor was much larger, measuring in at between 56 and 66 feet wide before it met its fiery end. Researchers with the Mount Lemmon Survey at the University of Arizona were responsible for discovering the mini asteroid.

The project is part of a NASA-sponsored program called the Catalina Sky Survey. The program is in place to scan the skies for asteroids that pose a danger to Earth.

The Near-Earth Object Observation program, which NASA and its partners run, uses a network of ground-based and space telescopes to watch asteroids and comets that fly close by the planet.

While astronomers were able to use the network to detect the small asteroid, they weren't able to spot the Russian meteor until it impacted the Earth in February. With improvements, the network could eventually detect all near-Earth objects before any potential impact happens.

[Image via ShutterStock]