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NASA on Alert About Space Rock Dashing by Earth on Sunday

© NASAArtistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth
Artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth - Sputnik International
The asteroid known as 2020 AB2 has been classified as a Near Earth Object (NEO) as it will pass by while being at a distance of just 1,600,000 kilometres away from our planet. It is said to be slightly smaller than the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk in the Urals in 2013, smashing windows and causing havoc in the Russian city.

A meteor, rushing 7.9 kilometres per second, is heading towards Earth and is expected to skim passed it on 12 January, The Daily Express reports, citing NASA. The asteroid, dubbed 2020 AB2, is 15 metres wide and 10 metres.

It is set to come as close as 0.011 astronomical units, or 1,645,576 kilometres, to Earth, which caught NASA’s attention and prompted the US space agency to take notice. The asteroid has been defined by its researchers as a Near Earth Object (NEO). Such space guests allow them to get a better understanding of the solar system’s past.

“NEOs are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood. The scientific interest in comets and asteroids is due largely to their status as the relatively unchanged remnant debris from the solar system formation process some 4.6 billion years ago,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) explains.

Asteroids  - Sputnik International
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However, less pleasant memories are also evoked by such space visitors, as the outlet points out. 2020 AB2 is said to be of approximately the same size as the notorious Chelyabinsk rock, which terrified the Russian city in the Urals, leaving windows smashed and people injured. It came unexpectedly, challenging the existing system for the detection of such objects, which could cause damage to cities and regions on Earth.

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