An asteroid bigger than a skyscraper is due to zoom over Earth this weekend – but will miss our planet by a considerable distance.
The huge space rock is due to pass above us by in the early hours tomorrow in an orbit around the sun.
Its estimated diameter is up to 740 metres (2,428ft), which considerably taller than the Empire State Building and bigger than about 90 per cent of asteroids.
According to Nasa’s calculations the asteroid will travel at around 11 kilometres per second, or more than 24,000mph.
Astronomers have been tracking the asteroid for the past 18 years and it is one of about 2,000 “near-Earth” objects being monitored around our solar system, which also include comets.
The rock – officially named 163348 (2002 NN4) – will miss Earth by about 4.6 million miles. But astronomers and scientists still class that as something of a near-miss and have labelled it as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid”.
The asteroid will make the approach in the early hours of Saturday, according to Nasa’s “close approach” tracker, before flying off on its own orbit around the solar system for nine years until is passes “close” to earth again.
Ian O’Neill, of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a safe distance.”
In comparison, a “close approach” between the earth and Mars is about 44 million miles, while the moon is around 240,000 miles away.