A football field-sized asteroid and potentially hazardous body - 163348 (2002 NN4) - is expected to fly by in comparatively close proximity to Earth in the coming days, with the minimal distance from it to our planet due to be registered around 3 a.m. GMT on 6 June, a Space Reference entry suggests, adding that it is expected to be 13 times the average distance from the orbit to the Moon.
First detected back in 2002, it is estimated to be roughly between 0.254 to 0.568 kilometres in diameter, making it small in absolute terms, but larger than 90% of asteroids. The distance that it will travel from the planet surface will reach around 5.93 million kilometres.
Earlier in March, astronomers with the project Virtual Telescope captured on their camera another “potentially hazardous asteroid”, or PHA for short - (52768) 1998 OR2.
NEOWISE data estimates that there are 4,700 ± 1,500 potentially hazardous asteroids with a diameter greater than 100 metres.
According to NASA, PHAs are currently determined based on parameters depicting the asteroid’s potential to make its close flyby to the Earth dangerous. In particular, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance (MOID) of 0.05 au (the average distance between Earth and the Sun) or less and an absolute magnitude (H) of 22.0 or less are defined as PHAs.
NASA and its partners have of late been actively scanning the skies for potentially hazardous asteroids and studying them for ways to deflect an Earth-bound celestial body before it strikes. So far, about one-third of the 25,000 large asteroids thought to be whizzing around Earth have been discovered.