NASA asteroid WARNING: 226 FOOT asteroid will pass the Earth TONIGHT | Science | News

The space rock will make a so-called Earth Close Approach 63 years after the asteroid last passed the planet.

predicts the rock dubbed Asteroid 2018 TZ2 will be closest to Earth at about 10.37pm BST (9.37pm UTC).

Astronomers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, estimate TZ2 measures somewhere between 101.7ft and 226.37ft (31m and 69m) in diameter.

At 226ft, the asteroid is taller than the iconic Tower Bridge in London and about 1.22 times the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

Even at just 101ft, the is still considerably large and is 1.5 times longer than the average cricket pitch.

Impact with an asteroid this big could be potentially catastrophic, as demonstrated by the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor incident, which injured 1,000 people in Russia.

The Russian asteroid was estimated to only measure around 65.6ft (20m) in size.

Thankfully, NASA expects Asteroid TZ2 to safely pass the Earth from a distance of about 0.02324 astronomical units (au) or 9.05 Lunar Distances (LD).

An astronomical unit is the equivalent of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun and is used as a reference point for distances in .

Lunar Distances follow the same principle but refer to the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

Asteroid TZ2 will fly by tonight from a distance of 2.16 million miles (4.47 million km).

The approach puts the asteroid squarely within the brackets of a so-called Earth Close Approach.

The European Space Agency (ESA) labels Earth Close Approaches as an asteroid or comet that comes “within 0.05 au of Earth”.

NASA explained: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) can occasionally approach close to Earth.

“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”

NEOs are all asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them close to the Earth – typically less than or equal to 1.3au or 120 million miles (194.4 million km).

NASA said approximately 99 percent of all known NEOs are asteroids, some of which are big enough to be labelled “Potentially Hazardous”.

Tonight, the asteroid will fly by the planet at speeds of up 37,446.3mph or 16.74 km per second.

Once the asteroid safe passes the Earth, NASA’s JPL does not expect another close visit from the interstellar traveller.

The space rock will, however, fly by the planet Venus next month, passing it on the morning of November 20.

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