Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid to enter Earth’s orbit next week, NASA says

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News


Scientists at NASA have issued a warning of concern regarding an incoming asteroid that is set to enter Earth’s orbit, but will pass by without hitting our planet.

Asteroid 4660 Nereus sits at just over 1,082 feet tall making it slightly bigger than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. It was initially discovered in 1982 by Eleanor Francis Helin, who ran the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the time.

Nereus is one of the many asteroids and other celestial bodies tracked by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). The Center says the asteroid will be closest to Earth on Dec. 11 at around 1:50 p.m.

JPL says that the asteroid will get within 0.02630 astronomical units when measuring between the centers of both the asteroid and the earth. An astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun, making it roughly 93.2 million miles.

The asteroid will therefore be about 2.44 million miles away from Earth’s center when it approaches. For scale purposes, the moon sits at roughly 239,000 miles away from Earth meaning this asteroid will be about 10 times that amount in distance. However, Nereus will still be close enough that scientists place it in the “potentially hazardous” category.

Thankfully the people at NASA are working hard to prevent any asteroid from actually impacting Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission “is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid,” according to NASA’s official description of the mission. In fact DART consists of “a spacecraft designed to impact an asteroid as a test of technology.”

As previously reported by FISM News, The DART craft lifted off on Nov. 24 to test its abilities against the Didymos system, comprised of two asteroids that pose no threat to Earth whatsoever. The craft will aim for the smaller of the two asteroids, named Dimorphos, sometime in Sept. of 2022.