NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has just spotted a massive asteroid heading our way. Dubbed a “city killer,” this asteroid is set to make its closest approach to Earth on Friday, February 2, coming within a distance of about 1.77 million miles.
To put its size into perspective, imagine it being roughly 7.4 times farther away from us than the moon. Traveling at an incredible speed of around 41,000 mph, this space rock measures about 890 feet across, making it comparable in size to an entire US football stadium, as estimated by NASA.
Given its immense size, experts classify asteroids of this scale as “city killers,” highlighting their potential to cause significant destruction if they were to collide with populated areas on Earth.
Despite its close passage, this asteroid will remain too faint and distant to be visible without the aid of a telescope come Friday. It will appear roughly 10,000 times fainter than the dimmest stars visible to the naked eye, according to astrophysicist Gianluca Masi.
However, for those eager to witness its journey, a livestream will be available courtesy of The Virtual Telescope Project. The livestream will track Asteroid 2008 OS7 as it moves past Earth, appearing as a tiny dot moving amidst the fixed stars in the background.
Asteroid 2008 OS7 follows an orbit around the sun every 962 days, traversing an elongated path through our solar system. As it continues on its trajectory post-Earth flyby, its distance from our planet will vary significantly with each encounter.
Considered a “potentially hazardous“ asteroid by NASA, 2008 OS7 falls into this category due to its size and close proximity to Earth during its orbit. To bolster our capability to detect and monitor such objects, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Surveyor mission is slated for launch in September 2027, aiming to provide valuable insights into potential threats to Earth’s safety.