A kilometre-wide asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, scheduled to fly past our planet just in time for Halloween.
NASA diagrams show how nail-bitingly close the fly-by of this asteroid, actually classed as a minor planet, is set to be.
Dubbed 1998 HL1, the space rock has been categorised as a moderate threat and luckily this year its closest approach will be 150,000,000 miles away on 25 October.
In a statement, the NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) said:
“A 3,248-feet giant asteroid is currently traveling at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour. Asteroid 1998 HL1 is expected to approach Earth on October 25 at 1:21 pm EDT. During its flyby, the asteroid will be about 0.04155 astronomical units or roughly 3.9 million miles from the planet's centre.”
The space rock has been classified by CNEOS as an Apollo asteroid, and as such having a very wide orbit around the Sun and the Earth.
Occasionally, Apollo asteroids intersect with the planet's orbit as it goes around the Sun.
Due to 1998 HL1's close-intersection with Earth's orbit, it has been labeled by CNEOS as a potentially hazardous asteroid.
The adventurous rock is a repeat visitor, as it was first spotted on 24 June 1998, by the LINEAR survey at the Lincoln Laboratory's Experimental Test Site in Socorro, New Mexico.
Earlier, NASA admitted an asteroid “did sneak up on us” when it passed closer than our own moon in July.
On 25 July, astronomers watched the 100-metre wide object called 2019 OK come within just 65, 000 km of our planet’s surface - one fifth the distance to the Moon.
The object had “previously been observed but wasn’t recognised as a near-Earth asteroid,” ESA admitted.
NASA's planetary defence officer, Lindley Johnson, wrote in an email to staff:
"This one did sneak up on us and it is an interesting story on the limitations of our current survey network."
NASA did spot the football-field-sized asteroid on 7 July, but it moved too slowly to be identified as a near-Earth object.
By the time it sped up scientists were unable to detect it. According to media reports, NASA said bad weather and the position of the Moon had hampered the asteroid’s detection.
Now it’s hoping to make sure every asteroid en route to Earth is identified well ahead of time.