'Fast & Furious' Aten-Class Asteroid Will Closely Approach Earth This June

Aten-class asteroids spend most of their time inside Earth’s orbit and from time to time they come quite close to our planet, sparking fears about an imminent collision.

NASA’s Center for NEO Studies revealed that the 2002 NN4 asteroid, also known as 163348, will closely approach the Earth on the early morning of 6 June. The space rock is measured between 0.250 to 0.570 metres, based on the way it reflects light, and is deemed “potentially hazardous” by the space agency, due to its predicted approaches with Earth.

However, this time the asteroid, which is “very roughly” comparable in size to a football field, will fly past our planet at quite a significant distance in human terms – around 5 million kilometres.

An artist's concept of catastrophic collisions between asteroids located in the belt between Mars and Jupiter. - Sputnik International
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2002 NN4 is still bigger than 90% of asteroids, the agency notes, explaining the why it is being so closely monitored.

On 6 June it will approach our planet at a speed of 11 kilometres per second, just one of its thirty close approaches to our home planet predicted for the coming decades.

The asteroid was first observed in July 2002 and was deemed Aten-class asteroid – that is those space rocks that cross our planet’s orbit, while spending most of their life span inside it.

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