asteroid earth fly by
An artist's illustration of asteroids flying by Earth.
Peter Carril/ESA
  • An asteroid possibly bigger than the Eiffel Tower is expected to fly past Earth next week.
  • NASA has classified the huge space rock as "potentially hazardous."
  • The asteroid will travel at a speed nearly equivalent to 20 times as fast as a rifle bullet.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

An asteroid that could be taller than the Eiffel Tower is expected to shoot past Earth next month.

The mammoth space rock has been classified as "potentially hazardous" by NASA, per Newsweek, though it is expected to pass by safely. NASA usually determines whether an asteroid is possibly hazardous by examining its size and distance from our planet.

Known as 2021 KT1, the asteroid will make a "close approach" to Earth on June 1 at about 10:24 am EDT, according to NASA.

The word "close" is a relative concept in cosmic terms. It is estimated that the distance the rock will actually swing past Earth is around 4.5 million miles. Even though this is roughly 19 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, NASA still considers the pass in its near approaches datasheet, Newsweek reported.

It will fly past Earth at a speed of roughly 40,000 mph, per NASA. This is 20 times the speed of a rifle bullet, according to Newsweek.

NASA estimates the size of the asteroid to be between 492 feet and 1,082 feet in diameter. This is roughly the size of three NFL football fields combined, according to The Washington Newsday.

But according to the agency's Center for Near-Earth object Studies, is not a major cause for concern. "No one should be overly concerned about an Earth impact of an asteroid or comet," it said in a post on its website. "The threat to any one person from auto accidents, disease, other natural disasters and a variety of other problems is much higher than the threat from NEOs.

However, it added that the chances of our planet being hit by an asteroid one day are slim but never zero.

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