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‘Hazardous’ Asteroid Size Of Eiffel Tower Hurtling Towards Earth, NASA Warns

by : Hannah Smith on : 07 Nov 2021 17:24
'Hazardous' Asteroid Size Of Eiffel Tower Hurtling Towards Earth, NASA WarnsAlamy

A ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ the size of the Eiffel Tower is set to make a fly-by past Earth, but scientists say there’s no need to panic.

The asteroid, named 4660 Nereus, is expected to make a pass at it’s closest point to our planet on December 11, but despite being more than 330 metres long – or the length of three football pitches – it doesn’t look like we’ll be going the way of the dinosaurs just yet.

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Illustration of an asteroid (Alamy)Alamy

According to NASA, Nereus is on a trajectory that is set to cross paths with Earth at a distance of more than 3.9 million kilometres. That’s more than 10 times the distance between the moon and our planet.

‘Potentially Hazardous Asteroids’ are defined by NASA as objects estimated to be larger than 100m on a trajectory to pass less than 7.5 million kilometres from the Earth. It sounds like a scary term, and for good reason. If an asteroid fitting that description was to actually collide with Earth, it would have devastating consequences for the planet.

Asteroid illustration (Alamy)Alamy
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Luckily, of the asteroids listed as potentially hazardous objects by NASA, 99% are not expected to be a genuine threat within the next 100 years.

At it’s estimated size, 4660 Nereus is larger than around 90% of known asteroids. It’s thought the asteroid could become an important subject of exploration for scientists, with its orbit making it one of the most accessible space objects for spacecraft. Previous proposals for sending a spacecraft to the asteroid have been explored since the its discovery in 1982, but none have been realised yet.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism.

Topics: Science, Asteroid, NASA, Space

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    'Hazardous' Asteroid Size Of Eiffel Tower Heading Towards Earth, NASA Warns