NASA is monitoring an asteroid that’s currently moving closer to Earth. According to the information collected by the agency, the approaching asteroid is about to intersect Earth’s orbit.
NASA is currently tracking the asteroid through its Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). As noted by the agency, the incoming asteroid is known as 2020 NO. According to CNEOS, this asteroid measures about 5 feet wide. It is currently moving toward Earth at a speed of over 17,000 miles per hour.
2020 NO was first observed on July 8. After studying the asteroid’s trajectory, NASA was able to create an orbit diagram of 2020 NO’s path.
According to the diagram, 2020 NO travels around the Sun in an elongated orbit that extends beyond the trajectory of Mars. Occasionally, the asteroid crosses Earth’s path as it completes its cycle around the Sun.
The asteroid’s Earth-intersecting orbit suggests that it has a slim chance of hitting Earth in the future. Based on its size, it is not expected to cause an impact event on Earth. Instead, 2020 NO will most likely explode in the sky shortly after going through the planet’s atmosphere.
The energy that would be produced by 2020 NO’s airburst would be more powerful than the mid-air explosion generated by the asteroid that hit Earth in 2013. During that time, an asteroid measuring about 66 feet wide entered the atmosphere and detonated over a populated region in Russia.
According to reports, the energy from the blast was equivalent to about 30 atomic bombs. Although much of the blast was absorbed by the atmosphere, the remaining energy that reached the ground was still powerful enough to damage about 7,000 buildings in the area. The incident also left around 1,500 people injured.
Fortunately, 2020 NO is not in danger of colliding with Earth or causing a powerful mid-air explosion in the future. According to CNEOS, the approaching asteroid is expected to cross Earth’s path on Tuesday at 11:29 p.m. EDT. During this time, the asteroid will safely fly past the planet from a distance of about 0.00522 astronomical units or about 485,000 miles away.