The largest asteroid that will approach Earth in 2022 will pass close to our planet this week

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A “potentially dangerous” asteroid measuring more than a mile long will pass close to Earth this week, the largest asteroid expected to come relatively close to our planet in 2022.

The asteroid, named 1989 JA, is estimated to be 1.1 miles long, or 5,905 feet, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. For reference, the asteroid is twice the size of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.

NASA says there are nearly 29,000 near-Earth asteroids in space, but 1989 JA is one of only 878 that are at least 3,280 feet across.

Such a large asteroid could cause a catastrophe on Earth, but there is nothing to worry about. When 1989 JA makes its closest approach to Earth on Friday, it will be 2.5 million miles away, or about 10 times the distance to the moon and the closest it has ever been to Earth.

Franck Marchis, scientific director of the Unistellar telescope company and a senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, told US TODAY that the asteroid is traveling at about 30,000 mph.

“To provide some context, that’s 17 times the speed of a bullet in air. At this speed, the asteroid could travel around planet Earth in 45 minutes,” Marchis said.

Discovered in 1989 by astronomer Eleanor Helin at the Palomar Observatory in southern California, the asteroid is labeled “potentially hazardous” because it is an Apollo asteroid, meaning it crosses Earth’s orbit.

This week will mark the closest the asteroid will come to Earth in the next 172 years, NASA projects.

Although 1989 JA won’t hit Earth, NASA is preparing for the possibility that a catastrophic-sized asteroid is about to hit the planet. The agency launched the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, on November 25, with the goal of testing whether it is possible to deflect an asteroid from its path.

The Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast live the asteroid passing close to Earth on Thursday and Friday in association with Telescope Live. The live broadcast will be broadcast from Chile on Thursday at 7 pm EST and from Argentina on Friday at 9 am EST.

Video: We asked a NASA scientist: What if an asteroid were to hit Earth?

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