Massive Asteroid Will Enter Earth’s Orbit Next Week

by Courtney Blackann
(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NASA is warning that a massive asteroid will enter Earth’s orbit next week. It’s described as being nearly as big as the Eiffel Tower. However, if you’re picturing a giant ‘tower of love’ headed straight into the States, hang on a second. Experts are saying it comes into ‘potentially hazardous’ territory. However, the asteroid will still be over 2 million miles from the earth’s path. That is, if everything goes well.

Asteroid 4660 Nereus is 1,082 feet in diameter and nearly 500 feet long. It was first discovered back in 1982 by astronomer Eleanor Helin. According to the space organization, it frequently passes by Earth. Though this is the first time it will come within 4.6 million miles. This proximity is considered by NASA to be ‘potentially hazardous.’ Experts are definitely keeping their eye on the big rock.

The experts at NASA consider any asteroid that passes within 120 million miles of Earth as a Near-Earth Office (NEO). Plenty of NEOs pass by Earth frequently. They are closely tracked to make sure that they steer clear of hitting the planet. There are even thousands of NEOs currently being tracked by NASA.

This particular asteroid passes by Earth fairly frequently. Both NASA and the Japanese Space Agency once thought about knocking it out of orbit. This is possible with a Hayabusa spacecraft, per the New York Post.

However, instead, they targeted another asteroid to redirect the path of the massive rock. This is working well since the discovery of the asteroid. Further, if all goes well, the asteroid will pass Earth by at more than 14,000 MPH on December 11.

NASA Pushes for Ways to Detect Alien Lifeforms

While tracking asteroids are a huge part of NASA’s mission, the organization is doing so much more to further space exploration. One of these things includes searching for alien life on other planets. And the experts are discussing ways they’re doing just that.

With a new tracking model, scientists are using a step-by-step model. This is to track and measure life on other planets – though it’s still in early stages.

“Having a scale like this will help us understand where we are in terms of the search for life in particular locations, and in terms of the capabilities of missions and technologies that help us in that quest,” the experts said.

Further, one NASA expert explained the significance of the model.

“…we learn more about both biological and nonbiological planetary processes,” says Mary Voytek, head of NASA’s astrobiology program. “The search for life beyond Earth requires broad participation from the scientific community and many kinds of observations and experiments. Together, we can be stronger in our efforts to look for hints that we are not alone.”  

Additionally, the organization is aiming to learn more than just about life on other planets.

“Until now, we have set the public up to think there are only two options: it’s life or it’s not life,” Voytek said. “We need a better way to share the excitement of our discoveries, and demonstrate how each discovery builds on the next, so that we can bring the public and other scientists along on the journey.”