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Asteroid That's 3 Times As Long As A Football Field Will Whiz By Earth Thursday



Earth's neighborhood later this week.

We're using the term "neighborhood" loosely here; the heavenly tourist (yes, it's asteroid), known as 2008 KV2, is located at about 4.2 million miles (6.7 million kilometers) from Earth on Thursday (June 27). But even though this visitor wants to be away, the event's still notable;

To put 2008 KV2's distance from Earth into perspective, the moon is about 238,900 miles (384,400 km) away from us, and the asteroid wants to be more than 17 times that distance. [Black Marble Images: Earth at Night]

Scientists discovered the asteroid in 2008 and promptly set about calculating how often it came within Earth's vicinity; It turns out, 2008 KV2 is a frequent visitor. Like Earth, it orbits the sun, but it does not always come that close to us. Even so, after Thursday's trip, 2008 KV2 is expected to pass by Earth again in 2021

and twice in 2022, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Why is NASA paying so much attention to this asteroid which could measure up to 1,082 feet (330 meters) across? The agency monitors all known near-earth objects (NEOs) in the zone between 91 million and 121 million miles (146 million and 195 million km) from the sun 30 million miles (50 million kilometers) of Earth's orbit, "NASA says on its website.

2008 KV2 is passing with 0.05 astronomical units (AU) of Earth (according to JPL, it's coming within 0.045 AU of our planet). Because of that, and because of the object's size, the space is considered a "potentially hazardous asteroid," according to the Center for Near Earth Object Studies at JPL. (One AU is equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.)

However, this space tourist is not lingering during its travels. The asteroid wants to zoom in at more than 25,400 mph (40,800 km / h). Oh, maybe 2008 KV2 wants to stick around next time – which is cool, so long as it does not bump into Earth.

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