Giant asteroid set to make a close approach to Earth by Sunday: NASA

The giant space rock is traveling at a speed of 37,400 kilometers per hour

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A large asteroid will come close to Earth within the next week according to NASA reports. The 1,600-foot wide rock, formally known as 388945 (2008 TZ3), is set to make its closest approach on Sunday.

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The giant rock is traveling at a whopping speed of 37,400 kilometers per hour. Live Science reports that at its closest approach, its speed will be 30-times faster than the speed of sound.

Luckily, the asteroid is only “close” in space-terms according to experts. In reality, it is still 5.6 million kilometers away from our planet and is no cause for alarm.

Similar to Earth, 2008 TZ3 orbits the sun but it passes earth every few years. In fact, it came a lot closer two years ago. In May 2020, it passed Earth as close as 2.7 million kilometers away. This year’s appearance, however, will be its closest one until May 2163.

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Our planet is surrounded by asteroids, but experts keep a very close eye on their activities. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office scans our vicinity with telescopes and details any potential hazards.

Although some asteroids, like 2008 TZ3, are described as dangerous, that designation, according to space.com, is reached only due to “complex calculation related to size (larger than 492 feet or 150 m) and the distance at which the object approaches Earth, among other factors.”

Asteroids are being discovered at a higher frequency but this is only due to the improvement of technology. With upgrades to the technology used in telescopes, it is no surprise that more and more asteroids are being revealed. This technological advancement is the first line of defense against any potential threats from rogue space rocks as NASA keeps a curated list of potential harmful steroids.

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Reports reveal that there is no immediate threat to earth despite many years of searching because the chances of impact are statistically improbable.

In the case that an asteroid like 2008 TZ3—which is as big as The Empire State Building—is a threat to our planet, NASA has defensive technologies and maneuvers in place.

One of which is the development of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART). This is NASA’s first planetary defense spacecraft which aims to crash into an asteroid at an extreme velocity with the aim of redirecting it. The mission was launched in November 2021 with the spacecraft expected to hit its target this September.

Asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) was discovered in 2008 and has an orbital period of 732 days. It will make its next appearance in May 2024.

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