NASA is keeping a close eye on an Empire State Building-sized asteroid that is about to close in on Earth.
NASA is keeping a close eye on a huge asteroid heading towards Earth.
The US space agency expects asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) to make a close approach to our planet on May 15.
The giant space rock is expected to be up to 0.5 km wide, The sun reports.
By comparison, the iconic Empire State Building in New York stands at 443m.
An asteroid of this size would cause serious damage if it hit Earth.
There is no need to panic because the asteroid 388945 (2008 TZ3) should pass us at a distance of about 3.5 million kilometers.
It may seem quite a distance, but in the grand scheme of space, it is not a great distance at all.
This is why NASA has always flagged it as a “close approach”.
If an asteroid approaches within 4.65 million miles and exceeds a certain size, it is considered “potentially dangerous” by cautious space agencies.
Sunday’s asteroid fits that description.
It should pass its safe distance at a speed of just over 28,970 km/h.
NASA says the asteroid is expected to pass Earth around 7:18 a.m. AEST.
Plans to save Earth from asteroids
Some experts fear that Earth is not yet ready to defend against potentially deadly asteroids.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk once raised concerns by tweeting, “a big boulder will eventually hit Earth and we currently have no defence.”
NASA is, however, studying some defense methods.
It recently launched its double asteroid redirect test mission.
NASA said: “DART is the first-ever mission dedicated to studying and demonstrating a method of deflecting asteroids by altering an asteroid’s motion through space through kinetic impact.”
The DART spacecraft is expected to crash into a small asteroid called Dimorphos in September in a bid to knock it off course.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.