NASA says Asteroid 2014 HQ 124, also known as The Beast, will come incredibly close to our cozy home planet on Sunday. We’re in no imminent danger—or so scientists say!—but the stadium-size terror will apparently come within 777,000 miles of Earth. Not very close in the context we typically associate with distance. But in space lingo, that’s precariously close—about three times the distance to our moon. Just look at that chart NASA drew up; it’s terrifying.
“There is zero chance of impact,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s JPL. Yeomans adds that objects of this size pass us every few years, which means it’s fairly common. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t count our lucky stars we’re left unscathed.
NASA is constantly surveying the craziness of space, so we should have a pretty solid handle on what is a threat and what isn’t. But just know that while you’re gearing up for next week’s World Cup, asteroids and other space debris is constantly flying in our vicinity. NASA and other ground-based telescopes have actually mapped The Beast’s trajectory up to year 2200, and in that time it won’t be a threat to our sheltered little existence.
Still, NASA has designated 2014 HQ124 as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” (PHA), which refers to its size (460 feet and up), and its distance within 4.6 million miles of Earth’s orbit around the sun. As of now, there are currently more than 1,000 PHAs, though none post an immediate threat to Earth. That doesn’t mean, however, there won’t be something years and years from now. But, at the moment, we’re safe and sound.
Let’s for a second discuss hypotheticals: if The Beast, which is traveling at 31,000 MPH, were to impact Earth, it has the potential to wipe out an entire metropolitan area—the impact would amount to about 100,000 times stronger than an atomic bomb. Hopefully no other Beast asteroids are out there on a trajectory for Earth.
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