A “potentially hazardous” asteroid measuring approximately 1.7km in diameter is expected to pass close to Earth today.
The asteroid will pass by Earth at 16:26 South African Standard Time (SAST).
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA)
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) – which is four times as wide as the Empire State Building is high – will zip past Earth at approximately 76,000 kilometres per hour.
Nasa’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) confirmed the space rock will safely pass us by at a distance of approximately 4 million kilometres.
That’s 10 times the average distance between Earth and the moon, so we’ll live to see another day. But… and there’s always a but…
WATCH: Asteroid live stream
Tune in to the live stream below because you won’t see it again until 23 June 2055 when it swings by our neck of the galactic woods again.
Why it is ‘potentially hazardous’
Due to its massive size – nearly 1.8km in diameter – it’s been classified as a ‘potentially hazardous’ Near-Earth-Object (NEO).
Our soon-to-be friendly neighbourhood asteroid won’t be visible to the naked eye but can be seen via telescope.
Franck Marchis, chief scientific officer telescope company Unistellar and senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute said on its current trajectory, 7335 is moving faster than a speeding bullet.
“To provide some context, that is 17 times the speed of a bullet through the air. At this speed, the asteroid could travel around the planet Earth in 45 minutes,” Marchis said.
It’s the largest space rock to pass by us this year and could cause significant damage to our planet if, by chance, it changes course and collides with Earth.
There will, however, be other space rocks zipping past. Nasa monitors more than 29,000 NEOs which pass within 48 million kilometres of Earth’s orbit.
Out of the vast network of asteroids being monitored, about 15,000 are Apollo-classed asteroids, meaning they orbit our sun and potentially intercept Earth’s orbit.
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) orbits the sun once every 570 days or so.