An asteroid the size of the London Eye will skim past Earth next week, NASA has revealed.
The asteroid, dubbed 2020 QL2, will pass our planet at around 16:50 BST on September 14.
It’s estimated to measure between 53 – 120 metres in diameter. At the higher end of that estimate, it suggests the space rock could be around the same size as the London Eye!
During the passing, the asteroid will be around 4.2 million miles away from Earth. While that might sound far, it’s actually classes as a ‘close approach by NASA.’
It will also be travelling at staggering speeds of up to 23,668 miles/hour. That’s about 11.5 times faster than a bullet!
Thankfully, the chances of 2020 QL2 hitting us are extremely low.
However, NASA hasn’t ruled out the possibility of an asteroid impact in the near future.
NASA explained: “Over long periods of time, however, the chances of the Earth being impacted are not negligible so that some form of NEO insurance is warranted.
“At the moment, our best insurance rests with the NEO scientists and their efforts to first find these objects and then track their motions into the future. We need to first find them, then keep an eye on them.”
If an asteroid is found to be on a collision course for Earth, NASA has several tactics up its sleeve to prevent a collision.
It explained: “One of the techniques suggested for deflecting an asteroid includes nuclear fusion weapons set off above the surface to slightly change the asteroid’s velocity without fracturing it.
“High speed neutrons from the explosion would irradiate a shell of material on the surface of the asteroid facing the explosion. The material in this surface shell would then expand and blow off, thus producing a recoil upon the asteroid itself.
“A very modest velocity change in the asteroid’s motion (only a few millimeters per second), acting over several years, can cause the asteroid to miss the Earth entirely. However, the trick is to gently nudge the asteroid out of harm’s way and not to blow it up.
“This latter option, though popular in the movies, only creates a bigger problem when all the pieces encounter the Earth.
“Another option that has been discussed includes the establishment of large solar sails on a small threatening object so that the pressure of sunlight could eventually redirect the object away from its predicted Earth collision.”