Asteroid larger than small country will narrowly miss earth this week
The asteroid will zoom by earth at a speed of four miles per second
(Web Desk) - An asteroid bigger than Vatican City will zoom past Earth next week in what passes for a perilously close near-miss —at least, on the cosmic scale.
Asteroid 139622 (2001 QQ142) is bigger than 97 percent of all asteroids, measuring around half a mile in diameter, according to SpaceReference.org.
It orbits the sun once every 620 days, and passes close to Earth only once every 20 years or so. On December 6, the asteroid will be just 3,434,294 miles away —around the length of 260 Great Walls of China.
Fortunately that's far enough away to not cause any problems, and it'll also be in a hurry to get past, zipping by at a speed of around four miles per second, or 14,400 miles per hour.
Even if there's no danger this time, Asteroid 139622 (2001 QQ142) is classified by NASA as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid due to its size and occasional proximity to Earth.
The closest it will come to Earth in most people’s lifetimes will occur on December 17, 2045, when its orbit will bring it within 3 million miles.
That’s nothing compared to Dec. 13, 2123, when it is calculated to come as close as 1.3 million miles to Earth —just five times further away than the moon.
The asteroid isn’t currently included on the European Space Agency’s Risk List, a list of 1,563 objects calculated to have a non-zero chance of striking the planet.
Most of those objects have pretty tiny odds of actually colliding with Earth, but that doesn’t mean scientists are ignoring the possibility. Last year, a NASA experiment successfully managed to change the trajectory of a celestial object, providing hope that when one of these solar system neighbors comes too close, we'll be able to move it away.