NASA has been monitoring an asteroid which maintains an orbit around various bodies in the solar system and consistently passes through Earth’s orbit with the sun. 13 near-Earth objects in total are expected to fly past Earth in December of this year.
Earth is set to have a close encounter with an enormous asteroid which is set to fly nearby Earth on Friday at a speed of almost 18,000 miles an hour (more than 28,000 km/h), according to NASA.
The upcoming pass-by is estimated to happen on 8:25 am on 13 December, the unlucky Friday the 13th. The asteroid’s orbit diagram indicates that the near-Earth approach will follow the rock’s intersection with Earth’s orbit.
According to the space agency’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid has an Earth-crossing orbit with the sun and will not approach from a diagonal or perpendicular direction and instead will flyby perpendicular to earth.
It is expected to pass by earth at a shockingly close 0.03033 astronomical units, around 1.9 million miles (more than 3mn km) away.
NASA has dubbed the asteroid 2019 XO1 and estimate that it is around 243-feet wide, about the width of a Boeing 747 plane.
According to CNEOS, 2019 XO1 is classified as an Aten asteroid, meaning that its orbit circulates around a number of celestial bodies in the solar system including the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and Earth.
The asteroid has a tendency to intersect its orbit with Earth’s, typically when it is furthest away from the sun.
3 December marked the first time 2019 XO1 was identified in its frequent encroachment on Earth. It also comes close to Mercury and Venus but, unlike its proximity with Earth, it does not cross the paths of the two other planets.
The body first came near Earth on 17 November 2013, missing the planet by 0.09488 astronomical units, around 8.8 million miles.
Following its passing on Friday the 13th, the asteroid will not come back from Earth’s outcrop of the solar system until December 22, 2022, where it will creep as close as 0.09534 astronomical units, up to 8.9 million miles (more than 14Mn km) away.
Image credit: © CCO