A massive asteroid is about to enter Earth’s orbit, and NASA scientists say they’re monitoring the impact closely.
But there are still some questions, including how big it is and what kind of debris it might produce, a report from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.
The asteroid, dubbed 2013 TC1, is about 10,000 feet (3,300 meters) in diameter, which is slightly larger than the Earth and about twice as wide as the moon.
The asteroid is thought to have been launched in 2013 and is expected to hit the Earth sometime around June 2018, NASA said.
The asteroid was discovered by scientists in 2013 using data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, but was not formally identified until this week.
Scientists estimate the object has a mass about 1.8 times that of the Earth.
It was discovered in 2013, but its orbit has not been properly tracked and no precise measurements of its size or speed have been made.NASA has released a picture of the asteroid.
NASA’s Jet Probing Laser mission, which was used to find TC1 and other asteroids in 2012, has also been analyzing the data collected by the telescope.
The spacecraft has collected data for more than 1,000 hours, but it was not possible to measure the asteroid’s distance or the object’s speed, said JPL mission scientist Michael Maloney.
Asteroid 1334 Phaethon is a gas giant that orbits between Jupiter and Saturn, and scientists say it is the closest thing in the solar system to a cometary body.
Its orbit is not well known, but NASA is monitoring it closely to learn more about its nature.
Its discovery was announced in December, but scientists said the asteroid would be more dangerous to the planet if it was to hit.
Its closest approach to Earth on Thursday will be about 2,500 miles (4,400 kilometers), according to NASA.
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