A gigantic asteroid is heading towards Earth at a very high speed and will fly past the planet on July 24. The asteroid, named “2008 Go20", is estimated to be the size of a stadium or thrice the size of the Taj Mahal. NASA said that the asteroid is hurtling towards the planet at a speed of 18,000 miles an hour, which is an average of eight kilometres per second. Given this high speed, anything that crosses the path of the asteroid will be destroyed due to the impact.
According to NASA's database of Near-Earth Object, the asteroid has a diameter of 220 metres and will be flying by at a distance of 28,70,847,607 km. This is roughly eight times the distance between Earth and the Moon. NASA has said that the asteroid will safely move past Earth. However, the orbit of 2008 Go20 has been classified as “Apollo”. This category holds the most dangerous asteroids. An Apollo category asteroid is one that has a Near-Earth Orbit. It gets its name from the 1862 Apollo asteroid that was discovered by the German astronomer Karl Reinmuth.
Even though the probability of the asteroid hitting Earth is minuscule and NASA is positive that it will fly past the planet, the space agency is continuously monitoring the object.
An asteroid is essentially fragments and debris left behind from the formation of the solar system. It is considered a Near-Earth Object when its distance from our planet is less than 1.3 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, according to the NASA Joint Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which tracks and studies the movement of asteroids.
This is not the first time in the recent past that an asteroid has been identified to be a Near-Earth Object. In September 2020, an asteroid called 2020 QL whizzed past the Earth.
Meanwhile, asteroid 2008 Go20 will fly past the Earth on July 24 at 3:35 pm Eastern Time, which is 1:05 am Sunday, Indian Standard Time.