A huge chunk of space rock as wide as London’s Canary Wharf tower is set to hurtle past ‘close’ to Earth this weekend.
A space rock of that size could cause serious damage to any city in its path – although it’s nowhere near the size of the six-mile-wide rock which wiped out the dinosaurs.
The asteroid, known as 441987 (2010 NY65) will sail safely past on July 24, about eight times further away than the moon.
It’s classified as ‘potentially hazardous’, due to the fact it repeatedly flies past Earth fairly near to our planet, but it poses no threat in the immediate future.
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This week, Dr Alan Fitzsimmons from Queen’s University Belfast Astrophysics Research Centre said that a major asteroid impact was a matter of when, not if.
Dr Fitzsimmons said, ‘’Astronomers find Near-Earth Asteroids every day and most are harmless.’
‘But it is still possible the next Tunguska would take us by surprise, and although we are much better at finding larger asteroids, that does us no good if we are not prepared to do something about them.’