CNEOS (NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies) has announced that an asteroid four times bigger than the Empire State Building will get close to Earth this Friday.
Although it will pass at a safe distance of approximately 4 million kilometers, NASA has classified the event as “potentially hazardous”, according to Live Science, which means that it could have a massive impact on our planet if it changes its trajectory. However, considering that the distance at which the Moon orbits the Earth is of approximately 384,000 kilometers, there shouldn’t be any reason for worry.
The asteroid, titled 7335 (1989 JA), will be the largest one that will pass Earth at such a close distance this year. The rock is travelling at a speed of around 76,000 km/h and will next fly by earth in 2055. However, next time, it won’t be so close. And while asteroids of this considerable size pass earth approximately once every year, there are many smaller asteroids that frequently pass by earth.
But what would happen if an asteroid hit earth?
The Jerusalem Post states that the only recorded case of a larger scale asteroid hitting our planet was in 1908, in Russia. During what came to be known as the Tunguska incident, an asteroid the size of a truck exploded above Siberia, producing a huge explosion that wreaked havoc on a widespread area. According to the publication, “that would make it about 800 times more powerful than “Little Boy,” the approximately 15-kiloton atomic bomb detonated during World War II over Hiroshima, and 600 times more than “Fat Man,” the 20-kiloton one detonated over Nagasaki three days later”.
Thankfully, the event was not as deadly as the two atomic bombs, as the area where it happened was quite secluded. However, the damage left behind by the explosion was massive, with the waves reaching Washington and Indonesia. People who witnessed the event recall seeing the sky split in two and the earth shaking violently.