Asteroid the size of Seattle’s Space Needle to pass near Earth

A “potentially hazardous” asteroid the size of Seattle’s Space Needle is expected to pass near Earth on Tuesday. …

A “potentially hazardous” asteroid the size of Seattle’s Space Needle is expected to pass near Earth on Tuesday. 

The space rock, known as 2021 KT1, measures approximately 600 feet, according to NASA’s Southern California-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

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The asteroid is expected to hurl past Earth at a distance of 4.5 million miles away and at a velocity of 40,000 mph.

Comparatively, the average distance between the Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles.

JPL reports that two other much smaller asteroids – approximately the size of a bus and an airplane – will also approach Earth on Tuesday, coming within 700,000 miles.

On Wednesday, two additional house-sized asteroids are also anticipated to come within four million miles of the Earth – none of which pose a threat.

This is not the first time this year an asteroid has had a “close call.” 

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In April, the tiny 2021 GW4 passed just 12,000 miles away from Earth and the massive 2001 FO32 safely maneuvered past Earth in March

An asteroid is a rocky fragment of space matter that is a remnant of the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

What asteroid is “potentially hazardous” is determined by its size, shape, mass, composition and position.

According to JPL, it’s classified as about 500 feet or larger and within less than half the distance from the Earth to the sun: around 93 million miles.

In addition, a near-Earth object (NEO) is an asteroid or comet that approaches Earth less than 1.3 times the distance from the Earth to the sun.

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While small asteroids are frequent visitors and 80 to 100 tons of material falls upon Earth from space in the form of dust and small meteorites every day, the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) assures that “no one should be overly concerned about an Earth impact of an asteroid or comet.”

Scientists and engineers are currently studying potential asteroid impacts – both finding and tracking asteroids and using simulations, in order to prevent threatening situations.

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