NASA has issued a warning that a massive asteroid the size of the Eiffel Tower will enter Earth's orbit in little than a week.
There's really no need to worry because the "potentially hazardous" rock will only pass Earth on December 11, according to the US space agency's asteroid tracker. Asteroid 4660 Nereus has caught NASA's attention because it is more than 492 feet long and will pass within 4.6 million miles of Earth. This is approximately ten times the distance between Earth and the moon. That may appear to be a long distance away, but as far as near-Earth asteroids go, it is quite close. A near-Earth object (NEO) is defined by NASA as any object that passes within 120 million miles of Earth. Scientists monitor thousands of NEOs to determine if they're on a collision course with Earth. Space organizations consider any fast-moving space object that comes within 4.65 million miles of Earth to be "potentially hazardous." Although 4660 Nereus does not appear to be a threat in 2021, it is expected to approach the Earth much closer in the future. It will pass within 745,000 miles of Earth in February 2060. Eleanor Helin, a scientist, discovered the asteroid Nereus in 1982. It is plausibly reachable by spacecraft due to its close orbit to Earth. Because it passes close to Earth on a regular basis, NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA considered "punching" it off course with the Hayabusa spacecraft. Instead, as part of their Double Asteroid Redirection Test, the space agencies have decided to target Asteroid 25143 Itokawa. There are no plans to pursue the asteroid at the moment, but it has been taken into account. Three countries have initially landed spacecraft on asteroids, which are thought to be potential mining targets in the future. The United Arab Emirates announced its intention last October to launch missions to start exploring asteroids, making it the first Arab country to do so. Their missions, which are set to begin in 2028, will include the exploration of seven asteroids as well as Venus, resulting in an asteroid landing in 2033. The US Space Agency hopes that by observing these asteroids and learning more about their size, shape, mass, structure, and composition, it will be able to ascertain methods for diverting one if it threatens Earth. What is an asteroid? An asteroid is a rocky fraction that was left over from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Scientists estimate that there are millions of asteroids in this region of space, some of which are hundreds of kilometers in size, orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter.
When swayed by the gravitational pull of planets, these asteroids' orbits can change. They can also come into contact, resulting in the release of smaller, but potentially lethal, shards of space rock.
One such stray asteroid, estimated to have been six miles in size, is thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, paving the way for mammals to take over the world.