It seems like Earth just can't catch a break right now. If the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic wasn't enough, now there's a huge asteroid heading towards our planet at incredible speeds.
NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which predicts the trajectories of near-Earth objects (NEOs) like asteroids, has warned of a humongous asteroid that is expected to approach Earth this weekend
Asteroid heading towards Earth
Based on data collected by the agency, there's a possibility that the space object could cause a powerful mid-air explosion once it makes contact with Earth's atmosphere. According to CNEOS, the asteroid, identified as 2020 FB2, is about 128-feet wide, which is roughly the size of Brazil's Christ the redeemer statue, to put things into perspective, and is heading towards Earth at speeds of over 24,000 miles an hour.
Based on 2020 FB2's natural orbit, the asteroid belongs to the Apollo family of space rocks. These asteroids follow an Earth-crossing orbit, which means they occasionally cross Earth's path as they travel around the Sun.
Asteroid to explode upon impact?
The asteroid's natural orbit indicates that it could hit Earth should there be a deviation in its trajectory. However, due to its size and the speed it is travelling at, 2020 FB2 is less likely to hit the ground in the event of a collision. Instead, the asteroid will go up in flames and cause a violent explosion in the atmosphere.
Considering its size, the asteroid will be reduced to ashes at an altitude of about 29,000 to 55,000 feet in the air. Although this seems like a safe distance from the ground, a blast of this magnitude could release the same amount of kinetic energy as 60 atomic bombs.
When will it enter Earth's orbit?
Based on its speed and course, the asteroid will cross paths with Earth's orbit over the weekend. As of now, the asteroid will be about 0.01489 astronomical units or roughly 1.4 million miles away from Earth as it passes by provided that it sticks to its estimated trajectory.
According to NASA, 2020 FB2's next rendezvous with our planet will take place on February 21, 2038 and at that time, the asteroid will pass by Earth from a distance of 0.48768 astronomical units or about 45 million miles away.