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An Asteroid as Big as the Empire State Building Will Fly Past Earth This Weekend

News Astronomy
by Eben Diskin Jun 4, 2020

Human civilization could probably use a reset button right now, but in typical 2020 fashion, we just can’t catch a break. An Empire State Building-sized asteroid is projected to fly past Earth on June 6, but it will not be striking our planet and wiping out humanity as we know it. That’s right. We’ll still be alive and kicking on June 7, and so will the global pandemic, social injustice, and all our other issues.

Asteroid 2002 NN4 — as it’s affectionately called by NASA — is an estimated 820-1,870 feet in diameter and is expected to pass a safe distance from Earth. NASA is continuing to monitor the asteroid, but if you don’t trust the professionals, you can track it yourself using this widget designed for stargazers.

It might seem like we have close brushes with asteroids all too often and that one is bound to hit us eventually. After all, there are approximately 20,000 near-Earth asteroids, so it certainly sounds like we’re overdue for a hit. However, the chances of a serious asteroid collision is incredibly small.

At a 2019 conference, scientists discussed what would happen if an asteroid was actually on a collision course with Earth. “All we have to do is change its speed a little faster or a little slower,” said Dr. Lori Glaze, director of planetary science at NASA, “so that when it crosses Earth’s orbit, it crosses either in front of us or behind us. It doesn’t really keep me up at night.”

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