'Potentially Hazardous' Asteroid Twice the Size of Empire State Building to Fly by Earth

·3 min read
asteroid 7482
asteroid 7482


A massive asteroid will be flying through Earth's side of the solar system on Tuesday, but the planet will be at a safe — albeit, a relatively close — distance from the celestial object.

According to CBS News, asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) will pass by the planet at a distance of 1,231,184 miles, the closest it has come since 1933, when it approached Earth at a distance of about 700,000 miles.

The asteroid is estimated to be around 3,280 feet in length, EarthSky reported, which is more than twice the height of the 1,454-foot-tall Empire State Building, and taller than the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at more than 2,716 feet tall. (The asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is estimated to be about 6.2 miles, or more than 31,680 feet, in length.)

Its next closest visit will be in January 2105, when it's expected to come within 1.4 million miles of Earth, CBS News said. For comparison, the Moon is about 238,855 miles from Earth on average, according to NASA.

The space rock was first observed in August 1994 by Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, according to EarthSky, and astronomers were able to piece together its orbit after spotting it in earlier images.

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"Near-Earth #asteroid 1994 PC1 (~1 km wide) is very well known and has been studied for decades by our #PlanetaryDefense experts," NASA said in a tweet this month. "Rest assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly past our planet 1.2 million miles away next Tues., Jan. 18."

Asteroid 7482 is expected to pass by Earth again in July but will do so at a greater distance than Tuesday's fly-by, CBS News reported.

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Though asteroid 7482 poses no immediate threat to Earth, NASA does list it as a "potentially hazardous" object due to its relative proximity to the planet.

While astronomers have located more than 27,000 asteroids near Earth, none appear to be on track to collide with the planet.

"We're racking up the numbers for these populations, but at the same time, there is no known threat right now to Earth," Kelly Fast, a near-Earth object observations program manager at NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, told Space.com in November. "There's nothing, there's no asteroid that we know of that poses a significant threat to Earth."

Still, NASA is working on a way to protect Earth from dangerous asteroids. In November, the agency moved forward with a trial run of its Double Asteroid Redirection Test, also known as DART.

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The mission will attempt to change the direction of the asteroid Dimorphous through the use of kinetic impact.

The Virtual Telescope Project is showing a live stream starting at 3 p.m. EST as asteroid 7482 makes its way through the solar system on Tuesday.

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