NASA warns massive asteroid is heading towards Earth – but there’s no need to panic

An asteroid the size of the Eiffel Tower is heading towards Earth in December, according to NASA.

But there is no need to panic, as the US space agency’s asteroid tracker says the “potentially dangerous” rock will only pass within 2.4m of Earth on December 11.

While the 330m-wide asteroid named “4660 Nereus” is unlikely to pose a threat, it is expected to make 12 more close passes over the next few decades.

The closest approach to the egg-shaped asteroid is expected to be February 14, 2060, when it will be just under 745,645 miles away.

For comparison, the distance between Earth and the Moon is approximately 239,000 miles.

The asteroid was first discovered by scientists in 1982 and, due to its close-to-Earth orbit, it is potentially accessible to spacecraft.

There are currently no expeditions planned to explore the asteroid but it has been considered.

NASA’s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous-Shoemaker (NEAR) robotic mission and Japan’s Hayabusa mission both considered Nereus as targets, before choosing other options.

Three countries have already landed spacecraft on asteroids and they are considered targets for future mining operations.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates announced plans for asteroid exploration missions and would become the first Arab country to do so.

Their missions are scheduled to begin in 2028 and will include the exploration of seven asteroids as well as Venus, culminating with an asteroid landing in 2033.

It is not uncommon for large asteroids to pass close to Earth.

In March, a boulder the size of the Golden Gate Bridge was found within 1.25 m of Earth.

NASA classifies asteroids as “potentially dangerous” when they come within 4.65 m of Earth and have a diameter greater than 500 ft.

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Dawn Valle

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