The imposing asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 JB1, is headed towards the Earth on a “Close Approach” trajectory. NASA’s asteroid trackers have calculated a close flyby in the early morning hours of Monday, May 20. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, Asteroid JB1 will shoot past our planet around 4.23am BST (3.23am UTC). And when the asteroid nears the Earth, it will reach breakneck speeds of around 26.04km per second or 58,349.8mph.
Asteroid JB1 is an Apollo-type “Near-Earth Object” or NEO asteroid.
NEOs are all asteroids and comets in orbit of the Sun at a distance of 1.3 astronomical units (au).
Just one astronomical unit measures about 93 million miles (149.6 million km), which is the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
NASA’s JPL estimates JB1 measures somewhere in the range of 557.7ft to 1,279.5ft (170m to 390m) across.
An asteroid at the upper end of the estimate is taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
The asteroid is also about 200 times longer than a Queen Size bed and 45 London double-decker buses.
If the space rock were to hit the Earth, the force of impact could be cataclysmically deadly.
NASA said: “If a rocky meteoroid larger than 25m but smaller than one kilometre – a little more than 1/2 miles – were to hit Earth, it would likely cause local damage to the impact area.
“We believe anything larger than one to two kilometres – one kilometre is a little more than one-half mile – could have worldwide effects.”
So, is there anything to fear from the asteroid’s flyby next week?
Thankfully, NASA predicts the asteroid will not come close enough to slam into the Earth.
At its closest, Asteroid JB1 will fly past Earth from a distance of 0.04305 astronomical units.
This means Asteroid will come within four million miles (6.4 million km) of our home-world.
In other words, NASA expects the asteroid to fly by 16.76 times as far as the Moon is.
NASA explained: “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.”