The giant space rock is called 2020 PM7 and is up to 200 metres long, making it more than twice the size of the Statue of Liberty – 93 metres – which looms over New York City. According to NASA, the asteroid will fly by our planet on September 29.
Observations have revealed the gigantic rock is hurtling towards Earth’s orbit at a staggering speed of 8.3 kilometres per second.
That is 29,880 kilometres per hour which, at that speed, could complete a full circle of the Earth in roughly an hour.
However, NASA has confirmed the space rock will zoom by us at a safe distance of more than 2.8 million kilometres, around 7.5 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
Nonetheless, it is close enough for NASA to consider the space rock as a near-Earth object (NEO).
NEOs are space rocks which come into Earth’s orbit of the Sun having been diverted from its path by one of the solar system’s other planets.
These close approaches give NASA the perfect opportunity to study the history of the solar system.
NASA explained on its website: “NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
“Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
“The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago.
“The giant outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) formed from an agglomeration of billions of comets and the left over bits and pieces from this formation process are the comets we see today.
“Likewise, today’s asteroids are the bits and pieces left over from the initial agglomeration of the inner planets that include Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
“As the primitive, leftover building blocks of the solar system formation process, comets and asteroids offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some 4.6 billion years ago.
“If we wish to know the composition of the primordial mixture from which the planets formed, then we must determine the chemical constituents of the leftover debris from this formation process – the comets and asteroids.”
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World news – GB – Asteroid twice the size of the Statue of Liberty set to fly by Earth