The European Space Agency (ESA) has identified a new asteroid that has a non-zero chance of colliding with Earth in the future. According to the agency, the asteroid is bigger than some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.
The asteroid has been identified as 2020 NK1. It is currently the latest addition to the ESA’s Risk List, which is a catalog of near-Earth asteroids that have non-zero impact probabilities. This means that all asteroids featured in the list have chances of hitting the planet.
According to data collected by the ESA, 2020 NK1 has an estimated diameter of 1,969 feet. At this size, the asteroid is significantly bigger than Europe’s tallest building, the Lakhta Center in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which stands at 1,516 feet. The ESA noted that 2020 NK1 is an Apollo asteroid, which means it intersects Earth’s orbit from time to time.
The ESA predicted that 2020 NK1 has a chance of colliding with Earth on Aug. 4, 2101. The agency noted that it may hit Earth at a speed of over 70,000 miles per hour.
The agency’s prediction is based on the asteroid’s current trajectory. Since several factors in space can alter an asteroid’s path, such as gravitational forces, the ESA believes that there’s a chance that 2020 NK1 could get nudged into a direct collision course with Earth.
Given its size and speed, a direct hit from 2020 NK1 would cause a major impact event on Earth. The impact would create a crater around 10 miles wide. The energy from the blast would be powerful enough to incinerate a large area.
If the asteroid ends up hitting the ocean, the powerful impact will generate towering tsunamis that can wipe out nearby coastal areas.
According to the ESA, 2020 NK1 has a slim chance of colliding with Earth in 2101. As noted by the agency, the odds of the asteroid hitting Earth that year are one out of 104,000.
Currently, the asteroid is moving toward Earth. It is expected to safely fly past the planet on July 31 from a distance of 0.05504 astronomical units or about 5.1 million miles away.