Experts note that an asteroid the size of a Boeing 747 will safely fly over Earth on Halloween at 2:24 am EST.
According to the Center for Near Earth Research (CNEOS), the giant space rock, known as 2020 UX3, is estimated to be between 88 and 196 feet in diameter. For comparison, the 747’s wingspan is 225 feet.
It will come within 3.2 million miles of Earth, traveling at about 36,000 miles per hour. Its size and proximity to the Earth makes it a close-to-Earth (NEO) object.
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“Potentially dangerous” NEOs are defined as space objects that are about 0.05 astronomical units in size and more than 460 feet in diameter, according to NASA. According to a 2018 report compiled by Planetary.org, there are more than 18,000 NEO.
NASA announced a 20-page plan in 2018 detailing the steps the US should take to better prepare Neos, such as asteroids and comets that come within 30 million miles of the planet.
A recent survey found that Americans prefer a space program that focuses on the potential effects of asteroids rather than sending humans back to the moon or to Mars.
NASA says an asteroid called 2018VP1 will fly past Earth just before Election Day. It is not considered “potentially hazardous” due to its small size.
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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in April 2019 that an asteroid strike is not something that should be taken lightly and perhaps Earth’s greatest threat.
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