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Massive asteroid the size of a three-storey building will pass by Earth this weekend

Amelia Jones

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Massive asteroid the size of a three-storey building will pass by Earth this weekend

Featured Image Credit: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo / Elen / Alamy Stock Photo

As if we needed another existential crisis to add to the list this weekend, a massive asteroid that's roughly the size of a three-storey building is heading for Earth this weekend.

With the catchy name, 2023 MU2, according to experts' calculations, it will swing by this Sunday at 7:19pm ET and the Virtual Telescope Project will livestream it for you in case of cloud cover.

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According to news broken by space.com, it was discovered a mere week ago.

Its existence and expected course was later confirmed by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.

However, the 2023 MU2 won't destroy the Earth.

The lump of space rock - which is estimated to be 13 and 29 feet - will miss us by roughly half the distance to the moon - and in space terms, that's a pretty close call.

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But before you start Doomsday prepping, an asteroid passing by earth isn’t exactly an unusual occurrence - in fact, 2023 MU2 is just one of five asteroids passing Earth this weekend.

According to reports from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a car-sized rock, 2023 MW2, passed Earth within 77,000 miles on Friday (23 June).

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 MU2: 23 June 2023. Credit: The Virtual Telescope Project
Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 MU2: 23 June 2023. Credit: The Virtual Telescope Project

Think that's not too big? The Dimorphous asteroid - one set to pass by our planet from further afield this weekend - is roughly the size of a stadium.

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Despite it really posing no threat, NASA deliberately crashed an object into it in 2022 to switch its trajectory.

The space association said at the time: "This marks humanity’s first time purposely changing the motion of a celestial object and the first full-scale demonstration of asteroid deflection technology."

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: "All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have.

"This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet.

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This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA's exceptional team and partners from around the world."

In other recent space news, scientists have also shared their thoughts after a NASA spacecraft snapped a picture of an eerie green light glowing on Jupiter.

2023 MU2's projected path. Credit: Facebook/ The Virtual Telescope Project
2023 MU2's projected path. Credit: Facebook/ The Virtual Telescope Project

The space agency released the snap last week, after it was captured by NASA's Juno mission as it completed its 31st close flyby of Jupiter on 30 December 2020.

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It reveals the huge, swirling patterns of Jupiter, which is a gas giant, but in the middle of the photo, there's a random circle of green light, glowing brightly.

But rather than little green men having a knees up, the light is thought to have been caused by a bolt of lightning which struck near the planet's north pole.

Earth lightening originates from water clouds and bursts into the bright-white colored flashes we all know and hope to avoid striking us.

Lightning on Jupiter, however hits different.

It occurs in clouds containing an ammonia-water solution, and most often occurs near the poles.

Topics: News, World News, Space, NASA

Amelia Jones
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