An asteroid roughly the size of the Eiffel Tower will fly past Earth on Saturday morning, coming within 2.4 million kilometers of our planet – which is considered close in cosmic terms.
4660 Nereus is 1,083 feet in diameter and shaped like an egg, according to EarthSky, which offers night sky and science insights. Its size is often compared to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
It will close in on Earth around 10:51 a.m. ET, but will still be about 10 times farther away than the moon, the outlet reports.
The asteroid is classified as a “potentially hazardous object”, but that doesn’t mean it’s about to collide with Earth. NASA defines this classification as a near-Earth object whose orbit brings it within 4.7 million miles of Earth’s orbit and whose size is greater than 500 feet.
4660 Nereus was discovered in 1982 by Dr. Eleanor Helin, an astronomer who pioneered the research and study of near-Earth asteroids.
Nereus approaches Earth several times a century, according to EarthSky. This, coupled with the fact that it is a relatively “slow” asteroid traveling at around 14,719 mph, meant it was considered an ideal asteroid to visit. Research in 2009 called it a “prime space mission target”.
Asterank, a scientific and economic database of over 600,000 asteroids, estimates the value of Nereus to be $4.71 billion in precious metals.
FILE IMAGE – Asteroid 243 Ida, discovered by the Galileo probe in 1993, is shown in an illustration. (Photo by: QAI Publishing/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
NASA has invested in technological concepts aimed at exploiting asteroids and lunar craters. In October 2020, his spacecraft descended on an asteroid and momentarily touched down to collect a handful of cosmic rubble for return to Earth.
It was a first for the United States and only Japan marked asteroid samples, according to the Associated Press.
On Sunday, the best and brightest comet of 2021 – known as Comet Leonard – will also make its closest approach to Earth, less than 21 million kilometers from our planet, EarthSky reports. It will be visible in northern and southern hemisphere skies this month with a pair of binoculars, according to the outlet.
Comets and asteroids are both leftovers from the formation of our solar system and orbit the Sun similarly to Earth, but comets are more icy and develop tails as they approach the Sun. , according to NASA.
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This story was reported from Cincinnati.