A huge asteroid is set to fly past the Earth later this month, the largest to make a close approach this year, according to NASA.
The large space rock, dubbed 7335 (1989 JA), is estimated to measure around 5,900 feet across, figures from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) show.
This estimate would mean you could fit roughly two of the world’s tallest buildings—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—across its length.
According to NASA’s figures, no other near-Earth object that is scheduled to make a close approach to the Earth in 2022 is as large as 1989 JA.
The asteroid is scheduled to make its close approach on May 27, when it will come within around 2.5 million miles of the Earth—a safe distance, albeit, relatively close in astronomical terms.
As the asteroid flies past the Earth, it will be traveling at a staggering speed of around 47,200 miles per hour.
This is around 20 times as fast as a rifle bullet, and about one fifth as fast as a bolt of lightning.
Among the other larger asteroids to have made a close approach to the Earth in 2022 include the space rock 7482 (1994 PC1)—which passed earlier this year and is thought to measure around 3,330 feet across.
These objects are known as near-Earth objects, or NEOs—a term used to refer to any astronomical body that passes within around 30 million miles of our planet’s orbit.
So far, more than 29,000 NEOs have been discovered, the majority of which are asteroids. Most of these NEOs are also relatively small.
Some NEOs that meet certain criteria are also categorized as “Potentially Hazardous” because of their large sizes and orbits. 1989 JA would fall into this category, for example.
But despite the name, none of the potentially hazardous NEOs has any chance of colliding with the Earth over the next century or so, according to the CNEOS.
“The ‘Potentially Hazardous’ designation simply means over many centuries and millennia, the asteroid’s orbit may evolve into one that has a chance of impacting Earth. We do not assess these long-term many-century possibilities of impact,” CNEOS director Paul Chodas told Newsweek.
More than 2,260 NEOs are categorized as “potentially hazardous,” according to the CNEOS. But there may be more out there.
“More work needs to be done in searching for more [Potentially Hazardous asteroids] because we expect there are roughly another couple thousand [of them] yet to be discovered. Finding as many of those as possible is the main goal of NASA’s upcoming NEO Surveyor mission,” Chodas said.