Photograoh by NASA.
UPDATE: NASA has released a short video of the 1,300-foot-wide asteroid that came within 202,000 miles of Earth this week.
The video (embedded at the bottom of this post) was made using radar data obtained by NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar. At the time, the asteroid, known as Asteroid 2005 YU55, was roughly 860,000 miles away from Earth
POST Tuesday, Nov. 8: Earth is set for a close encounter, astronomically speaking, Tuesday evening, when an aircraft carrier-sized asteroid comes closer to our planet than the moon.
The BBC reports that the 1,300-foot-wide asteroid, named Asteroid 2005 YU55, will be the largest asteroid we’ve seen since 1976. It won't be the first time this particular space rock has dropped in, but it is the closest 2005 YU55 has been to Earth since a similar flyby two centuries years ago.
But hold your horses, Harold Camping. Even if The End is nigh, it won't be from this asteroid. NASA officials say it poses no danger and won’t even be visible to the naked eye. Or, for those who like their assurances to come in more scientific terms: "2005 YU55 cannot hit Earth, at least over the interval that we can compute the motion reliably - which extends for several hundred years," said Lance Brenner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Experts predict that its closest approach will occur at 6:28 p.m. ET, when the asteroid passes within 202,000 miles of our planet.
But let’s dive into the hypothetical, shall we? Experts spoke to CNN about a potential doomsday scenario:
If the asteroid were to crash into Earth, it could cause a 4,000 megaton blast and a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, according to scientists at Purdue University. If it fell into the ocean, it could cause a 70-foot high tsunami within 60 miles of the crash site.
The asteroid will stick around until Thursday, then go wherever it is asteroids go (past the orbits of Venus and Mars, says National Geographic). Mankind will have its next close encounter in 2029, when a similarly large asteroid will come within a 18,300 miles of Earth.
But by then, we’re sure, we’ll probably have lasers.