An asteroid twice the size of the Empire State Building will pass Earth next week and it will be the closest an asteroid has come to our planet in almost a century.
On January 18, the 3,280-foot asteroid (nicknamed 7482) comes within 1,231,184 miles from the earth, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To put this in perspective, the Moon is 238,900 miles from us, so to say that this asteroid will be near us is pretty relative. But it is the closest an asteroid has come to our planet since January 17, 1933, when an asteroid came within 700,000 miles of the earth.
According to NASA, this asteroid will pass by Earth again in July, but will not come so close this time. It will take almost a century before it gets this close, as it is believed that in 2105 the asteroid will be approximately 1,445,804 miles from us.
The asteroid was originally discovered in August 1994 and is classified as an Apollo asteroid, meaning that its orbit intersects with the Earth’s orbit. NASA considered the asteroid “potentially dangerous” because of its “potential to make impending nearer closer to Earth.”
But for now, it is expected to stay more than a million miles away, so the real potential of that danger remains minimal for the time being.
But is the possibility of a massive asteroid coming to Earth realistic? This is not impossible, but there is currently no clear threat. Nancy Chabot, the chief planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, explained that there are about 25,000 asteroids that can be quantified as near-Earth and large enough to be “devastating” if they ever reach us.
“We are not really talking about, like, global extinction event, but local devastation in the area that could wipe out a city or even a small state,” Chabot said. “And that is why it is really a concern. This is a real threat. “