NASA Says Asteroid That Could Be 2,700ft Wide Will Pass Earth Next Week

An asteroid that could be bigger than the tallest building in the world is due to fly past Earth next week, NASA data shows.

The asteroid, called 467460 (2006 JF42), is estimated to have a diameter up to 2,755 feet, meaning it could be wider than the height of the tallest building in the world: The 2,717-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The space rock will get closest to our planet on Monday, May 9, at about 8:13 p.m. EDT, at which time it is expected to be traveling at a speed of around 25,300 miles per hour according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Asteroid
A stock illustration depicts an asteroid in space. A large space rock is due to make a safe "close approach" by Earth on May 9, 2022. Alexandr_Zharikov/Getty

Earth will be completely safe. At its closest point to our planet, dubbed a "close approach" by CNEOS, 2006 JF42 will still be around 3.5 million miles away—more than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

In addition, there is no guarantee as to 2006 JF42's size. 2,755 feet is an upper estimation of its diameter; according to CNEOS it may also be as small as 1,214 feet across.

Still, 2006 JF42 is classed as a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA, due to its potential to make threatening close passes by Earth, even though it may never actually hit us.

Generally, asteroids that can't get any closer to Earth than around 4,650,000 miles or are smaller than about 500 feet in diameter are not considered PHAs.

2006 JF42 is a fairly regular visitor to Earth as it orbits the Sun, passing by our planet once every few years or so at around the same time of year according to orbital data. Sometimes it will pass Earth at a closer distance than others.

On May 5, 2033, it's expected to pass Earth at a distance of about 2.1 million miles.

Asteroids pass Earth all the time at varying distances and sizes. It's thought that about 100 tons of space dust drifts to the Earth's surface every day, CNEOS states. Bigger asteroids that are about 100 meters (328 feet) in diameter might be expected to collide with Earth once every 10,000 years or so, causing local disasters or possibly tidal waves.

An even larger asteroid might cause a global disaster on an average of every several hundred thousand years or so.

Scientists constantly track thousands of asteroids for the purposes of Earth defense and have come up with theoretical ways to prevent an impending space rock impact. Last year NASA launched its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, which will be a practical test of technology that could change the course of an asteroid in space.