A stadium-sized asteroid is set to whiz past Earth this week.
Asteroid 163348, or 2002 NN4, is traveling at 11.15 kilometers per second (6.9 miles per second or 24,840 mph), according to NASA.
The space agency classifies asteroid 2002 NN4 as a “potentially hazardous object” because it is larger than 492 feet and traveling within 4.6 million miles of Earth.
A football-sized asteroid – labeled 2018 GE3 – buzzed by Earth on April 16, 2018. (Texas A&M)
In 2019 a football-field-sized asteroid flew past Earth at more than 30,000 mph.
In 2016, NASA opened a new office to track asteroids and comets that come too close to Earth. The Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO) formalized the agency’s prior program for detecting and tracking near-Earth Objects, known as NEOs.
A small chunk of an asteroid or comet is known as a meteoroid. When it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are called meteorites.