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Enormous Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth on Friday

Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is expected to miss our planet by about 2.5 million miles.

By Stephanie Mlot

An asteroid four times the size of the Empire State Building is heading toward Earth this week, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Don’t worry: The potentially hazardous object, dubbed 7335 (1989 JA)(Opens in a new window) , will make a close approach on Friday, but miss our planet by about 2.5 million miles. The stony Apollo-type asteroid, approximately 1.1 miles (1.8 kilometers) in diameter, was discovered 33 years ago by astronomer Eleanor Helin at the US Palomar Observatory in California.

Each year, NASA finds, tracks, and characterizes thousands of near-Earth objects (NEOs)(Opens in a new window) , defined as being at least 153 yards (140 meters) in size—bigger than a small football stadium—that pose a risk to Earth.

The 7335 (1989 JA) asteroid(Opens in a new window) orbits the Sun every 861 days (or 2.36 years), coming as close as 84.5 million miles and reaching as far as 244 million miles from the Solar System’s central star. It’s forecast to make 16 more flybys through 2194, but will not draw so close to Earth again for at least another 172 years, according to the CNEOS database.

Astronomers in May 2020 observed a new asteroid passing Earth less than 27,000 miles away, putting it at risk of potentially colliding with a European Data Relay System communications satellite. Only 26 feet in diameter, the asteroid missed the nearest satellite, passing “under” it at a distance of 746 miles. It was ultimately classed by the European Space Agency (ESA) as “one of the closest flybys ever recorded.”

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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