A huge asteroid will fly incredibly near to Earth on Halloween, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The object was detected last week by the Pan-STARSS observatory in Hawaii, and it will pass by Earth at the extraordinary velocity of 35 km/s, the equivalent of 78,000 mph.
It will be a close encounter, given the fact that there will be just 1.3 lunar distances (310,000 miles or 499,000 kilometers) separating us from the 2015 TB 145 asteroid.
It’s the nearest that a such an object has been to Earth in the last 9 years: starting from September 2006, a tiny asteroid called 2006 RH120 was in our planet’s orbit until June 2007, its closest position being at 0.7 lunar distances.
The proximity of the newly identified asteroid will give NASA the opportunity to photograph it at resolutions reaching as much as 2 meters (6 feet) per pixel.
While it will not be observable with the naked eye, amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere will still be able to view 2015 TB 145 with a telescope.
According to researchers, the space rock is incredibly large, its diameter having been estimated to be between 280 and 620 meters ( 920 and 2,034 feet).
In contrast, a meteorite which crashed into Russia’s Ural region back in February 2013, was 28 times smaller, measuring just 14 meters (55 feet) across, and its maximum velocity had been of just 19 km/s. Despite its more diminutive proportions, its fragments still injured more than 900 people, and wrecked buildings across 6 cities.
Another meteor, which generated a large explosion in the vicinity of the Stony Tunguska River back in 1908, is estimated to have been just 40 meters in diameter(130 feet).
However, it flattened 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles) of the Eastern Siberian Taiga, causing 80 million trees to collapse. In fact, the damage would have been much more catastrophic had the rock struck a large metropolitan area, instead of a remote region.
While these previous impacts may raise fears regarding the upcoming asteroid encounter, NASA researchers insist that there isn’t actually any risk of collision. It would have had to be at a distance of less than 4,600,000 miles in order to be qualified as potentially hazardous.
If such probability had existed, the consequences would’ve been tremendous, given the object’s incredible dimensions and speed.
While it may raise concerns that it took so long to identify this asteroid, since scientists spotted it a mere 9 days before its actual flyby, it appears that there is a reasonable explanation for this delay.
As space agency representatives reveal, the object is on “an extremely eccentric and high inclination orbit”. Also, the asteroid may actually be “cometary in nature”, according to calculations.
It is estimated that the following close asteroid encounter will occur in 2027, when 1999 AN10 will approach Earth so much that it will actually be at a closer distance than the moon.
The mile-wide object might even threaten our planet in August 2039, and it could wreak havoc across an entire continent, which is why it is closely monitored by scientists.
Image Source: Flickr