Massive asteroid as wide as 8 football fields skims past Earth today

A massive asteroid is skimming past Earth today. The asteroid in question is named 418135,…

A massive asteroid is skimming past Earth today. The asteroid in question is named 418135, or 2008 AG33. It’s estimated to be twice as big as the Empire State building, with a diameter between 1,150 and 2,560 feet.

While it poses no threat to our planet, it is coming dangerously close.

A potentially hazardous asteroid is skimming past Earth today

Image source: Hubble Space Telescope / ESA

The asteroid skimming past Earth today will only come within 2 million miles at its closest point. That’s eight times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon. That might not sound like very close, but it’s actually considered a danger zone when it comes to measuring distance in space.

Overall, NASA considers any object that comes within 120 million miles of the Earth as a “near-Earth object”, or NEO. Further, any fast-moving object within 4.65 million miles is classified as potentially hazardous. Since this asteroid is skimming past Earth at around 23,300 miles per hour, it falls into the latter category.

Asteroid 2008 AG33 was first discovered in 2008 by surveyors at the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter observatory in Arizona.

The last time this asteroid skimmed past Earth was back in March of 2015. NASA says that it swings by every seven or so years. The next flyby is expected to come around May 25, 2029. The path that these asteroids take can change, though, which is why NASA is keeping an eye on asteroids that come so close to Earth.

NASA expects another asteroid named 467460, or 2006 JF42, to breeze past Earth on May 9, 2022. NASA estimated the asteroid to be between 1,247 and 2,822 feet in diameter and traveling at roughly 25,300 miles per hour.

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What if a NEO is flying right towards Earth?

Illustration of DART, from behind the NEXT–C ion engineImage source: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL

With so many near-Earth objects out there, it makes sense to be concerned about what we would do if one of them found its path aimed directly at the Earth. That’s why NASA and other space agencies are working on countermeasures. These defenses will help combat any asteroid skimming past Earth that might come a little too close.

NASA is setting up its D.A.R.T. system. The agency will test it later this year. China also recently shared plans for an asteroid monitoring system. These systems could help us keep a better eye on near-Earth objects, as some smaller ones have come out of nowhere and hit the Earth.

Ultimately, though, this asteroid is skimming past the Earth, not coming directly towards it. As such, you can rest easy knowing that asteroid 2008 AG33 won’t impact your day at all.