US space agency NASA reports that an asteroid large enough to kill millions of people will pass by our Earth on Saturday, February 15. Named Asteroid 2002 PZ39, NASA said the asteroid is coming towards our Earth at a speed of over 35,500mph or 57,240 km/h and measures 3,280 feet (one kilometer) across.
Considering the potential size and speed of the approaching object, NASA said a rocky meteoroid smaller than one kilometer and larger than 25 meters can create significant damage anywhere it hits on Earth. But they added that an asteroid between one to two kilometers large could cause global impacts and even trigger earthquakes and tsunamis.
“Objects close to and larger than one kilometer can cause damage on a global scale,” the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan wrote. “They can trigger earthquakes, tsunamis, and other secondary effects that extend far beyond the immediate impact area. An asteroid as large as 10 kilometers across is thought to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs when it struck the Yucatan peninsula some 65 million years ago.”
Asteroid 2002 PZ39 is expected to pass Earth around 11:05 am GMT (6:05 am EST) on Saturday, February 15. Its trajectory indicates it has a speed of about 15.19km per second and measuring between 1,443 feet and 3,248 feet (440m to 990m) in diameter. This speed and size indicate the asteroid could have a very devastating if it were to hit the Earth.
NASA said it is important to learn more about the sizes, compositions, and structures of these large asteroids with a view to predicting their future trajectories since the Earth had collided with such big asteroids in the distant past. However, this approaching asteroid is expected to fly past our Earth by a margin of about 3.58 million miles or 5.77 million kilometers – where the distance of our Earth to the Sun is around 93 million miles or 149.6 million kilometers.
As soon as the potentially cataclysmic asteroid passes by the Earth, it is anticipated that it will reach planet Venue on June 14, 2034. And on August 25, 2034, it is expected that the asteroid will come close to our Earth again.