According to NASA, a massive “possibly dangerous” asteroid the size of the Empire State Building passed by the Earth on Thursday (April 28). The asteroid, known as 418135, has a diameter of 1,150 to 2,560 feet and entered Earth’s orbit at a furious 23,300 mph. Fortunately, the asteroid passed by our planet without the risk of colliding.
The asteroid, which is flying at more than 30 times the speed of sound, passed within approximately 2 million miles of Earth at its closest point, which is nearly eight times the normal distance between Earth and the moon. This may appear to be a significant distance, but by astronomical standards, it is only a short walk away.
Any space object that comes within 120 million miles of Earth is classified as a “near-Earth object,” and any rapid object that arrives within 4.65 million miles is classified as “potentially hazardous.” Astronomers actively watch the objects once they have been marked, looking for any deviation from their anticipated trajectory that may place them on a crash course with Earth. On January 12, 2008, the incoming space rock was detected for the first time. The asteroid passes our planet every seven years, with the next near encounter scheduled for May 25, 2029. If astronomers ever spot an asteroid heading directly towards Earth, space organizations all around the world are already planning measures to deflect the asteroid.