500-Foot-Wide Asteroid Set to Fly Past Earth at 20,000 mph: NASA

August 24, 2018 Updated: August 24, 2018

NASA said a “potentially hazardous asteroid” is on a “close approach” near Earth, but the space agency said there is nothing to be afraid of as the asteroid is heading past the planet at approximately 3 million miles away, Fox News reported.

Known as asteroid 2016 NF23, the object is between 230 and 525 feet in diameter, according to NASA. It will fly past Earth on Aug. 29, with a speed of more than 9 kilometers per second, or around 20,000 miles per hour.

The asteroid is the third largest near-Earth object (NEO) on the Earth Close Approaches page, behind two that will fly past Earth in September 2018: 2001 RQ17 and 2015 FP118.

Any asteroid that comes within 4.6 million miles of Earth with a diameter of more than 500 feet is considered “potentially hazardous,” according to NASA.

Meanwhile, a private foundation is looking to build a database to track “near-earth asteroids.”

“There’s almost 5 million of those,” Danica Remy, who is the president and CEO of the B612 Foundation, told Politico. “So we have a long way to go in terms of the discovery rate. That is the most important challenge. We need to find them. We need to build this map.”

Politico pointed to the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russia.

“Yes, they do occasionally hit Earth, but they are also really interesting celestial objects—interesting places to visit; they could tell us interesting facts about the origins of our life,” she said. “The glass of water that is sitting on my desk right here was brought to us by asteroids.”

“They are going to see a vast number of asteroids, really dwarfing what we know today,” Remy added. “Within the first couple of months there will be between 50,000 and 100,000 near-earth asteroids that LSST will identify.”

And the database, known as ADAM, will be “the first step for planetary defense but also for mission planning, for scientific purposes, and sometime in the future utilization of resources from these celestial objects,” Remy told the website.

Chelyabinsk Meteor Revisited

The Chelyabinsk meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere on Feb. 15, 2013, and its entry was seen over a wide area in the region. Due to its high speed and angle, the meteor exploded in an air burst over the Chelyabinsk Oblast.

“The asteroid impact near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on 15 February 2013 was the largest airburst on Earth since the 1908 Tunguska event, causing a natural disaster in an area with a population exceeding one million,” according to Science Magazine. “Because it occurred in an era with modern consumer electronics, field sensors, and laboratory techniques, unprecedented measurements were made of the impact event and the meteoroid that caused it.”

According to Nature magazine, the meteor’s “early-morning flight through the sky over the Urals was observed by many people and captured by numerous video cameras.”

It appeared to observers in the area as much brighter than the Sun and had the energy equivalent of 500 kilotons of TNT.