A “potentially hazardous” asteroid measuring more than a mile long will zoom past Earth this week. This is the largest asteroid expected to get relatively close to our planet in 2022. The name of the asteroid is 1989 JA. It is estimated to be 1.1 miles long, according to NASA‘s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies. The asteroid is twice the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is the tallest building in the world.
NASA says there are nearly 29,000 near-Earth asteroids in space. But 1989 JA is one of 878 that are at least 3,280 feet wide.An asteroid that large could cause catastrophe on Earth. But there is no need to worry.1989 JA will make its closest approach to Earth on Friday. But it still will be 2.5 million miles awayor about 10 times the distance to the moon and the closest it has ever been to Earth.
Franck Marchis, chief scientific officer of the telescope company Unistellar and senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, told U.S. TODAY the asteroid is traveling about 30,000 mph. Discovered in 1989 by astronomer Eleanor Helin at the Palomar Observatory in Southern California, the asteroid is labeled “potentially hazardous” because it is an Apollo asteroid which means it crosses Earth’s orbit.
This week will mark the closest the asteroid gets to Earth in the next 172 years. 1989 JA won’t strike Earth. But NASA is preparing for the possibility that a catastrophic-sized asteroid is on target to hit the planet. The agency launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Testor (DART), with the goal of testing to see if it is possible to knock an asteroid off its path.
The Virtual Telescope Project will Livestream the asteroid flying past Earth on Thursday and Friday in partnership with Telescope Live.