NASA’s astronomers believe the rock is flying towards our planet on a “close approach” trajectory. The terrifying asteroid is estimated to measure up to 1,443ft (440m) across, making it three times taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
NASA estimates the space rock will close in on our planet on the afternoon of Thursday, December 19.
Racing towards Earth at speeds of around 63,081mph (101,520km/h), the asteroid will appear close to Earth around 1.45pm GMT (8.45am EST).
The asteroid’s close approach is being tracked by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies or CNEOS.
NASA’s trackers have dubbed the asteroid 2019 XO3 after its discovery this year.
Asteroid warning: NASA is tracking a giant asteroid headed our way (Image: GETTY)
Asteroid warning: Interesting facts about asteroids and other space rocks (Image: GETTY)
The space rock was found barreling through the solar system last week on December 14.
As of December 18, NASA has made 21 direct observations to determine the rock’s speed, size and trajectory.
NASA determined Asteroid XO3 is “potentially hazardous” Near-Earth Object (NEO) on an Earth-crossing orbit.
According to NASA, potentially hazardous asteroids can get “unusually close” to our home planet.
By studying them in great detail, the US space agency could one day protect Earth from a devastating impact.
NASA said: “Potentially hazardous asteroids are about 150 meters – almost 550ft – or larger, roughly twice as big as the Statue of Liberty is tall.
Potentially hazardous asteroids are about 150 meters – almost 550ft – or larger
“They approach Earth’s orbit to within 7.5 million kilometres – about 4.6 million miles.
“By comparison, when Mars and Earth are at their closest, they are about 53 million kilometres – about 33 million miles – apart.”
Asteroid XO3 is estimated to measure somewhere in the range of 656ft to 1,443ft (200m to 440m) across.
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Asteroid warning: The asteroid will make an “Earth close approach” (Image: GETTY)
Asteroid warning: The asteroid will not hit Earth anytime soon (Image: GETTY)
At the upper end of the estimate, the asteroid is as tall as the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The asteroid is also comparable in height to the Shanghai World Financial Center in Shanghai, China.
At the lower end of NASA’s estimate, Asteroid XO3 is almost as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US.
Thankfully, NASA does not expect the imposing space rock to strike our planet any time soon.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
At its closest, the space rock will approach Earth from a distance of about 0.04320 astronomical units.
One astronomical unit measures about 93 million miles (149.6 million km) or the distance from Earth to the Sun.
Asteroid XO3 will cut this down to just 4.01 million miles (6.4 million km).
In other words, the rock will safely miss Earth from about 17 times as far as the Moon is.