14:10 GMT09 April 2020
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    NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies has been tracking space objects that zoom a bit too close to comfort to Earth, in the belief that asteroids larger than 1 km in diameter could pack a devastating punch for our planet.

    A huge space boulder is fast-tracking towards Earth, according to NASA’s asteroid tracking system.

    Set to cross our planet’s orbit on 19 March, the asteroid has been identified by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2020 FN.

    The space rock measures about 59 feet - almost as long as a standard bowling lane - and judging by CNEOS data is heading across the Solar System Earth-bound at a velocity of over 15,000 miles per hour.

    Due to its trajectory, the asteroid has been identified as an Apollo asteroid.

    These space bodies typically follow an elongated orbit that reaches out between Jupiter and Mars, yet on occasion traverse the path of Earth as it orbits around the Sun.

    2019 PDC Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Scenario Orbit
    2019 PDC Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Scenario Orbit

    Theoretically speaking, 2020 FN’s Earth-crossing orbit suggests it has a chance of colliding with Earth if its trajectory slightly changes.

    While experts predict that 2020 FN will most likely explode in Earth’s atmosphere without doing any damage, a mid-air explosion does not automatically render this object a harmless asteroid.

    According to NASA, the approaching space traveler is as big as the one that caused a powerful mid-air explosion over Russia’s Chelyabinsk in 2013.

    Impact Event: Tunguska Meteorite and Other Space Objects that Have Struck Earth
    © Sputnik / Evgeny Iletsky
    Impact Event: Tunguska Meteorite and Other Space Objects that Have Struck Earth

    During that incident, a 66-foot-wide asteroid collided with Earth and detonated over the city.

    It exploded at a high altitude of about 97,000 feet, releasing kinetic energy said to equal that of about 30 atomic bombs.

    The blast was powerful enough to damage over 7,000 buildings on the ground, with around 1,500 sustaining injuries because of the explosion, mostly the result of indirect effects rather than the meteor itself.

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    Tags:
    NASA, NASA, NASA, Chelyabinsk, Earth, Asteroid, asteroid
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