100-foot asteroid to zoom past Earth in two weeks, and ‘it’s gonna be close’

An asteroid roughly 100 feet long and moving at more than 34,000 mph is scheduled to make a close pass by Earth in two weeks.

But don’t worry, scientists say. It has no chance of hitting us, and may instead help draw public attention to growing efforts at tracking the thousands of asteroids zooming around space that could one day wipe out a city — or worse — if they ever hit our planet.

This one, known as 2016 TX68, is larger than an 18-wheel tractor trailer truck, and is expected to fly as close as 19,245 miles to Earth at 4:06 pm Pacific time on Monday, March 7. For comparison, that’s less than one-tenth as far as the moon is from Earth, or 238,900 miles.

tx68

“It’s gonna be close. But it’s going to miss us. There is nothing to worry about,” said Gerald McKeegan, an astronomer at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland.

The distance of the March fly-by, which could end up being as far as 10.7 million miles away because researchers have not yet settled on its precise orbit, is also potentially closer to Earth than many of our weather and communications satellites, which orbit at 22,236 miles up in space.

It will not be visible to the naked eye. But if it comes in at the closest estimated distance, it will be the first time an asteroid that big has come that close to Earth in three years, since one at least 130 feet long zipped within 25,560 miles of Earth on Feb. 15, 2013.

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