Asteroid flying faster than a bullet will shoot past Earth today
- Asteroid 2019 SR8 will be flying past Earth today.
- The asteroid will be travelling over ten times as fast as a rifle bullet.
- It is around half the size of the Statue of Liberty.
The speed of an average rifle bullet is 3,276 kilometers per hour (kmph) but Asteroid 2019 SR8 will be flying at more than ten times that speed — at 35,350 kmph.
On the one hand, Asteroid 2019 SR8 isn’t a very big asteroid. It measures between 20 meters to 44 meters in diameter — that’s half the height of the Statue of Liberty. On the other, its closest approach to Earth will only be 5 million kilometers from the planet.
This may seem like a large distance but it’s enough for NASA to classify the incoming asteroid as a ‘close approach’ or a ‘near-Earth object’. It’s one of the many Apollo asteroids — an asteroid that orbits around the Sun and the Earth — to come visit.
Even though Asteroid 2019 SR8 will be under the close, watchful eye of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), the probability of an actual asteroid impact is low.
Should the asteroid’s trajectory change, its small size dictates that it will probably break up in Earth’s atmosphere.
That isn’t to say an asteroid exploding mid-air won’t be harmful. It will still produce a large amount of energy equivalent to multiple nuclear explosions.
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