Lady Liberty-sized asteroid to make close approach to Earth at over 37000 mph


A huge asteroid dubbed 2018 SP1 is hurtling towards Earth. The space rock is estimated to be about the size of the Statue of Liberty or larger.

The giant space rock, discovered by NASA on September 19, is closing in on Earth at the speed of 37,600 mph, or 60,000 kph.

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Artist's impression of an asteroid in motion © Mark A. Garlick, SPACE-ART.CO.UK, The University Of Warwick and the University of Cambridge

SP1 measures between 229ft and 524ft (70m and 160m) in diameter, which is comparable to the size of Statue of Liberty (305ft), a standard football pitch (295 to 393ft) or the London Eye (440ft).

The asteroid falls into the “potentially hazardous” category in NASA terms, given to all asteroids that go closer to Earth than 4.6mn miles and are bigger than 500ft in diameter. The space object is expected to make a “close approach” to Earth on October 3, when it passes by within 3.54mn miles.

It’s an Apollo type asteroid, named after 1862 Apollo discovered in the 1930s. One of the type’s defining characteristics is that its path crosses the Earth’s orbit at some point.

It’s still too far away for panic, though – the closest distance it will be to our planet is still 16 times farther than the moon.

After cruising past Earth, SP1 will make a close approach to Venus a month later. The next time the asteroid is expected to skim past Earth is in 33 years, on October 2, 2051.

Flybys of asteroids of that size are not quite uncommon. In late August, an asteroid the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza (between 230ft and 525ft in diameter) flew about three million miles from Earth.

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