Narrow miss: Kilometer-wide asteroid to brush close to Earth

asteroidAn asteroid up to 1.3 kilometers across will come very close to Earth on May 14, according to NASA’s Near Earth Object watch. While a space rock of this size could be devastating if it hits our planet, this one is expected to hurtle safely by.

The asteroid, designated 1999 FN53, is the largest object currently on NASA’s near Earth radar. It was first discovered in March 1999 and is currently set to fly past Earth at a speed of almost 14 kilometers per second (about twice the speed of a space rocket at liftoff) at distance of 26.4 lunar distances, or roughly 10 million kilometers.

While there are objects brushing closer to Earth in the near future, none share FN53’s enormous size. This has prompted speculation as to what would happen should the asteroid actually hit our planet.

One astronomer thinks such an impact would kill about a fifth of the Earth’s population. “It would undoubtedly lead to the deaths of around 1.5 billion people, we are looking at a mass extinction of humanity,” says Bill Napier, professor of astronomy at the University of Buckinghamshire, cited by UK newspaper Daily Express. read more