Asteroid alert: NASA tracks a 110M rock barreling towards Earth – Close approach in hours

The NASA-tracked object will close-in on our planet on the afternoon of Sunday, March 1. NASA’s tracking systems have dubbed the object Asteroid 2017 BM123 after its discovery three years ago.

Tomorrow, the space rock will visit Earth’s corner of space on a path known as a “close approach”.

Asteroid BM123 is a so-called near-Earth object (NEO) racing around the inner circles of the solar system.

NASA said: “Some asteroids and comets follow orbital paths that take them much closer to the Sun and therefore Earth – than usual.

“If a comet or asteroid’s approach brings it to within 1.3 astronomical units of the Sun, we call it a near-Earth object.

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“One astronomical unit is close to the mean distance between the Sun and Earth approximately 150 million kilometres – about 93 million miles.”

Asteroid BM123 is flying towards our planet at speeds of about 8.14km per second or 18,208mph (29,304kmh).

At this rate, the space rock will appear closest to Earth around 12.45pm GMT (7.45am EST) tomorrow.

Based on NASA’s observations, the rock measures somewhere between 157ft and 360.8ft (48m and 110m) in diameter.

At the upper end of the estimate, the asteroid is taller than Big Ben’s clocktower in Westminster, London.

Compared to other iconic landmarks, Asteroid BM123 is also taller than the Statue of Liberty in New York, US.

Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth

NASA

At the lower end of the estimate, the asteroid is comparable in height to the famous Chicago Water Tower in the US.

NASA said: “Space rocks smaller than about 25m – about 82ft – will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and cause little or no damage.

“If a rocky meteoroid larger than 25 meters but smaller than one kilometre – a little more than half-a-mile – were to hit Earth, it would likely cause local damage to the impact area.”

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On average, the Earth is pummelled by 100 tons of space dust sand-sized particles every single day.

NASA estimates a car-sized object strikes the planet about once a year.

And the bigger the asteroid, the less likely are the odds of it striking Earth anytime soon.

NASA said: “Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area.”

Tomorrow, Asteroid BM123 will approach the planet from a distance of about 0.02680 astronomical units.

One astronomical unit measures the average distance between Earth and the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).

Asteroid BM123 will cut this down tomorrow to just 2.49 million miles (4.01 million km).

NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, NEOs can occasionally approach close to Earth.

“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”

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