Massive Asteroid said to be Passing Earth On Christmas Eve
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About 1.5 mile-wide asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on Christmas Eve.
Asteroid 2003 SD220, also known as asteroid 163899, will pass our planet from 6.7 million miles (11 million km) away – 28 times farther than the moon.
Despite its huge distance, reports have circulated the asteroid could cause earthquakes and trigger volcanoes on Earth.
But experts have dismissed these claims, saying that there is no scientific evidence to back up these theories.
Discovered back in 2003, asteroid 163899 will only be visible to people using a telescope.
It currently moving at a speed of 17.5 miles/second, and appears to take about one week to rotate fully week.
Nasa says the space rock will make a return to Earth in 2018, but it will pose no threat to our planet for at least 200 years.
If it were closer to Earth, a direct hit from such a huge asteroid could be enough to destroy a whole continent.
According to the Idea Girl Severe Storm Predictions Warnings website 2003 SD220 could have enough gravitational pull on Earth to trigger earthquakes or volcanoes.
But Eddie Irizarry writes at EarthSky: ‘Those assertions are misleading and incorrect.
‘Even if 2003 SD220 were passing closer, it’s doubtful earthquakes would result.
‘In fact, there’s no scientific evidence that an asteroid’s flyby can cause any seismic activity, unless it collides with Earth, but – in this case – that clearly will not be the case.’
Nasa has listed the asteroid as a ‘potential human-accessible target’ and astronomers will be tracking it over the coming weeks.
According to its Near-Earth Object Observations Program, which scans the skies for potential threats, there are no asteroids or comets that could impact the Earth anytime in the ‘foreseeable future.
In fact, of all known potentially hazardous asteroids, there is a 0.01 per cent chance one of them will impact Earth in the next 100 years.
Of course, this does not mean there is not an unseen asteroid or comet hurtling towards Earth, but officials say anything big enough to cause the damage being predicted for September would have been seen by now.
In September, Paul Chodas, manager of Nasa’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said: ‘There is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth.
‘In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century.
Nasa tracks around 12,992 near-Earth objects which have been discovered orbiting within our solar system close to our own orbit.
It estimates around 1,607 are classified as Potentially Hazardous Asteroids.