On Saturday, precisely at 10.30 AM EST, a giant asteroid that is the size of a blue whale will skim past Earth at a breathtaking speed of 14,000 miles per hour. NASA, the United States space agency has named this asteroid '2019 YB4', and as per the latest analysis, this asteroid will be 780,000 miles away from the center of the earth during its close flyby.
Will this asteroid cause a mid-air explosion?
In human terms, 780,000 may be a huge distance, but when it comes to astronomical terms, this is a very small distance considering the vastness of this universe. As this asteroid is skimming past the earth at such a close distance, NASA has classified this space rock as a near-earth object (NEO).
It should be noted that even a small change in this asteroid's trajectory could result in a mid-air explosion. However, this 86 foot space rock is not that large enough to reach the surface of the earth. But still, during its mid-air explosion, it will unleash energy equivalent to 30 nuclear bombs.
Near-earth objects posing threat to Earth's existence
Several space experts strongly believe that giant asteroids from deep space could one day hit the earth causing massive devastation on the planet. As space expert, Dr Iain McDonald quoted in the past, devastating events like asteroid hits are not confined to the past, and it will happen in the future too.
Physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson also shares similar thoughts, and he believes that life may be wiped out from the earth following a devastating asteroid hit. In order to combat these future impacts from space, NASA is now busy developing a planetary defense weapon. Using this weapon, NASA aims to nudge the asteroid from its original collision course trajectory.
Latest update on asteroid YB4
Fortunately, asteroid YB4 skimmed past the earth in its original trajectory, and as a result, no collision happened with the earth. However, despite its close approach, this asteroid is not expected to reach the earth's vicinity until January 2021.