NASA is keeping a close eye on a huge asteroid that’s heading towards Earth. The US space agency expects Asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) to make a close approach to our planet on May 15.
The giant space rock is predicted to be up to 1,608 feet wide. In comparison, New York’s iconic Empire State Building stands at 1,454 feet tall. An asteroid of this size would cause some serious damage if it hit Earth.
There’s no need to panic though as Asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) should pass us from a distance of about 3.5 million miles away. That may sound pretty far away but in the grand scheme of space this isn’t a large distance at all.
That’s why Nasa has still flagged it as a “close approach”. If an asteroid comes within 4.65 million miles and is over a certain size, it’s considered “potentially hazardous” by cautious space agencies.
Sunday’s asteroid fits this description. It should shoot past from its safe distance at a speed of just over 18,000 miles per hour. Nasa says the asteroid should pass Earth at around 5:18 p.m. ET and 9:18 p.m. GMT.
Some experts are worried that Earth isn’t yet ready to defend itself from potentially deadly asteroids. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once sparked concern by tweeting: “a big rock will hit Earth eventually & we currently have no defense.”
Nasa is looking into some defense methods though.It recently launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission.
Nasa said: “DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to investigating and demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection by changing an asteroid’s motion in space through kinetic impact.”