Asteroid That Could Be as Big as Two Football Fields to Pass Earth This Week

An asteroid that may be as big as two NFL football fields end-to-end is due to zoom past Earth this week, according to NASA data.

Named 2017 TS3, the space rock is due to fly past our planet on Tuesday, November 2, at roughly 5:51 a.m. UTC (1:51 a.m. ET).

At that time, it's estimated the asteroid will be moving at a speed of about 22,000 miles per hour—about 30 times faster than the speed of sound.

Luckily, the asteroid poses no danger to Earth despite its hulking size and speed. It's due to make its "close approach" to us on Tuesday—meaning it will reach its nearest point to Earth during its journey around the sun—but it will still be nearly 14 times as far away from us as the moon is.

According to NASA, 2017 TS3 was first observed in October 2017. It's estimated to be up to 721 feet in diameter—an NFL football field is around 360 feet end-to-end—but it could also be less than half that size.

Asteroids make close approaches by the Earth all the time, sometimes several times a day. Their distance, speed and size all vary greatly.

Data on the space rocks is tracked by NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and displayed online.

Some asteroids pass by Earth very closely, coming between our planet and the moon. Others are enormous, measuring more than a kilometer, or 3,280 feet, wide.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids

Scientists start to take more notice of an asteroid if it is both large and expected to come close to Earth in the future. In this case, it may be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA).

Specifically, an asteroid may be classed as a PHA if it is predicted to come closer than 4,650,000 miles to Earth and is bigger than around 500 feet across. Scientists must also take into consideration how bright they are.

In total, roughly 27,000 near-Earth asteroids have been discovered, according to NASA. Of these, around 1,000 are thought to be more than a kilometer in diameter.

Another asteroid due to make a close approach to Earth soon is 2021 UW5, which is due to pass our planet at 4:24 p.m. today at around the same distance as the moon. This is relatively close, but the asteroid is only thought to be up to 32 feet across.

Then there is 163899 (2003 SD220), a hulking asteroid thought to be around half a mile wide, that's due to pass Earth on December 17. It's classed as a PHA, but it will be around 14 times further away from us than the moon is on this date.

Asteroid
A file photo of an artist's illustration of an asteroid floating through space. NASA tracks thousands of asteroids. Alexandr_Zharikov/Getty