The asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 KA4, was first spotted flying towards Earth on May 29 this year. Astronomers now predict the asteroid will come scraping past our homeworld in the morning hours of Wednesday, June 4. According to NASA’s asteroid trackers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) the space rock will fly by around 7.23am UK time or 1.23am Eastern. And when this happens, NASA has revealed the asteroid will shoot by at speeds breaking 7.16km per second or 16,016.5mph (25,776kph).
Asteroid KA4 is a so-called Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA), which is a type of Near-Earth Object (NEO) together with Near-Earth Comets (NECs).
Swinburne University in Australia explained: “Asteroids whose orbits bring them relatively close to the Earth – perihelion distances of less than 1.3au – are known, not surprisingly, as Near Earth Asteroids.
“Alternatively called ‘Near Earth Objects’, as some of them are thought to be the nuclei of extinct comets rather than asteroids, the majority of NEAs originate in the main asteroid belt and are perturbed inward through either collisions between asteroids or the gravitational influence of Jupiter.”
NEAs are typically divided into Aten, Apollo and Amor type space rocks, depending on their respective orbits.
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Asteroid KA4 represents the last type of asteroids because it follows a path similar to Asteroid 1221 Amor.
NASA estimates the space rock measures somewhere in the range of 52.5ft to 118ft (16m to 36m) in diameter.
An object in this range might not seem all that terrifying but similar sized asteroids have been known to cause chaos and destruction in the past.
In 2013, for instance, a 65.6ft-wide (20m) space rock exploded over Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast, blowing out windows and injuring more than 1,000 people with glass.
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When the asteroid struck the planet undetected, NASA dubbed the incident a cosmic “wake-up call” to the dangers lurking in space.
So, is there any chance of the asteroid striking the planet tomorrow morning?
Thankfully, Asteroid KA4 is expected to miss the Earth by a wide berth.
According to NASA, the asteroid will flyby from a distance of approximately 0.02153 astronomical units.
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One astronomical unit measures around 93 million miles (149.6 million km), which is the distance from the Sun to the Moon.
This means Asteroid KA4 will cut this down tomorrow to just two million miles (3.22 million km).
In other words, the rock will shoot past Earth 8.32 times as far as the Moon is.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”