Huge asteroid to give Earth a very close shave today

Although there is little information available on its physical properties, Nasa's measurements indicate that the peanut-shaped asteroid is roughly 2,000 feet (650 meters) in size, and that its surface is about twice as reflective as that of the moon.

Astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona first detected "The Rock" - officially called 2014 JO25 - about three years ago.

Although not fatal, some experts say that smaller and less risky asteroids do pass the Earth at even nearer distances than "the rock".

They will discuss the features of asteroid 2014 JO25, how it was discovered and "how we might stop an asteroid of this size should one be discovered on a collision course with Earth", according to the statement.

The asteroid will come within 1.8 million kilometres of Earth, less than five times the distance to the Moon.

The space rock known as 2014 JO25 will shoot past us and its the closest this one will get for the next 500 years.

2014 JO25 is classified as a "potentially hazardous asteroid" by the Minor Planet Centre.

According to The Independent, an asteroid one mile wide hitting our planet would unleash an energy similar to around 1,000 atom bombs - the kind that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

A massive asteroid the height of the Shanghai Tower will pass close to Earth on Wednesday night.

"The odds of an impact for asteroids are very low on "human timescales" (a hundred years are so)", Dr. Amy Mainzer, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told NBC MACH in an email.

NASA says the rock about the size of six football fields will pass close to Earth on April 19th. It is said to happen again in 2027, when a half all inclusive space rock known as 1999 AN10 will fly by the Earth at a separation of around 236,000 miles.

"Astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible", the United States space agency said.

While the asteroid will not be able to be seen by the naked eye, it will be visible with the use of small telescopes.

Asteroids are composed of rocky and metallic material, whereas comets - generally smaller - are more typically made of ice, dust and rocky stuff.

  • Carolyn Briggs