A potential collision with an object several hundred meters in size certainly earns the “potentially hazardous” description.
Since this particular threat is predicted to be – at its nearest point to Earth – 1.25 million miles away, though, everyone can probably relax.
An asteroid that scientists say is larger than 97% of asteroids will become the largest and fastest one to pass nearby this year.
“This is the closest predicted approach in 2021 for any moderately large asteroid, where ‘moderately large’ means at least several hundred meters in size,” Paul Chodas, the Director of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, told CBS News on Wednesday.
Identified by NASA as 231937 (2001 FO32), this one measures about 0.5 to 1 mile in diameter, making it relatively small when you’re talking about those rocks that star in the worldwide destruction movies.
And we’re not sure how to interpret this fact from NASA, but the asteroid in question has an orbit period of 810 days.
The closest point is scheduled for 11:02 a.m. ET on March 21, one day after the spring equinox.
The distance is near enough for NASA to classify it as “potentially hazardous” in its database.
Traveling at 77,000 miles per hour, or 21 miles per second, it will be among the fastest space rocks known to fly past Earth, according to EarthSky.
So, can we see it? Not without special equipment.
According to Chodas, it will be “far too faint” to be seen otherwise.
So, are we safe for now? Yes, for the next 150+ years anyway.
CBS News reported the current biggest known threat is an asteroid called (410777) 2009 FD, which has less than a 0.2% chance of hitting Earth in 2185, according to NASA’s PDCO.