(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE UK EXPRESS NEWS)
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The NASA-tracked asteroid, dubbed Asteroid 2011 HP, is flying towards our planet on a so-called Earth Close Approach trajectory. NASA predicts the imposing space rock will shoot past Earth on the morning of Thursday, May 30. According to NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the asteroid will approach the planet around 11.48am BST or 6.48am Eastern Time. When this happens, NASA said the asteroid will break speeds of around 8.43km per second or 18,857.4mph (30,348kmh).
Asteroid HP is an Apollo-type Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) or Near-Earth Object (NEO).
NASA’s JPL estimates the space rock measures somewhere in the range of 328ft to 754.6ft (100m to 230m) in diameter.
At the upper end of that scale, the asteroid is as tall as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, US, and the Space Needle in Seattle.
However, even at the lower end of the estimate, the space rock is still almost as tall as Big Ben’s clock tower in London, UK.
NASA asteroid tracker: A colossal space rock will zip past the Earth on Thursday, May 30
The space rock orbits the inner circles of the solar system on a trajectory similar to that of asteroid 1862 Apollo.
The asteroid’s trajectory takes it beyond the orbit of Mars but it does not fly past the Asteroid Belt in-between Mars and the gas giant Jupiter.
All NEOs are comets and asteroids on paths, which orbit the Sun from distances smaller than 1.3 astronomical units or 120.8 million miles (194.5 million km).
One astronomical unit measures approximately 93 million miles (149.6 million km) – the distance from the Earth to the Sun.
READ MORE: How often do asteroids hit Earth?
Next week, Asteroid HP will significantly cut this distance down to around 0.03149 astronomical units.
Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth
This means the asteroid will near-miss the Earth from a distance of just 2.92 million miles (4.7 million km).
In other words, the space rock will approach our home-world 12.26 times as far as the Moon is.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
NASA asteroid tracker: The asteroid was discovered on April 13, 2011
NASA asteroid tracker: Thankfully, the space rock will not hit the Earth and pass safely
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
After the asteroid ups past the Earth next week, NASA predicts HP will visit us again on May 17, 2027.
Then, the space rock will make many more approaches every few years until September 2, 2184.
NASA asteroid trackers first observed the asteroid on April 13, 2011.