In Depth

Nasa warns of ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid - will it hit me?

Space rock travelling at 20,000mph will pass Earth on 29 August

Nasa has warned that a “potentially hazardous” asteroid is hurtling towards Earth at a speed of around 20,000mph. 

In Nasa’s NEO Earth Close Approaching report, the space agency says lump of space rock is over three million miles away from Earth and is between 230 and 525 feet in diameter, the Daily Mail notes. 

That means the asteroid, dubbed 2016 NF23, is at least the size of a Beoing 747 jet - and potentially double that if it’s towards the higher end of Nasa’s estimates.

Although it’s some three million miles away from Earth, the asteroid is still close enough to be classed as hazardous.

But there’s no chance of the asteroid hitting us, as it isn’t expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere and will instead pass by on 29 August. 

If the rock were on a collision course with Earth, though, its could cause a substantial amount of damage. 

Detlef Koschny, the European Space Agency’s head of near-Earth objects, told Space Daily that a 400ft asteroid would “cause significant damage in an area the size of Germany, and even affect the surrounding region”.

“But asteroids of this size don’t strike Earth very often. Maybe every 10,000 years on average,” he said.

Significantly smaller asteroids can pose a threat. For instance, Koschny says a 60ft piece of space rock would be similar to an asteroid that hit Earth in 2013, injuring 1,500 people as it passed over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk.

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