- An asteroid called 2002 AJ129 will pass within about 2.6 million miles of Earth on February 4.
- The space rock may be 1,000 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa skyscraper.
- Astronomers are taking radar images of the “potentially hazardous” asteroid, though NASA says it has “zero” chance of hitting Earth within the next 100 years.
- Giant telescopes are being built to find “city killer” asteroids that threaten our planet.
Astronomers are keeping a close eye on a big space rock that will fly past Earth in just a few weeks.
Dubbed asteroid 2002 AJ129, the rock is at least 1,000 feet wide and, according to experts contacted by Time, about 3,700 feet long. That exceeds the height of the 2,717-foot-tall Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the tallest building in the world.
But these estimates are suspect, which is why planetary defense experts want to get more data.
“I don’t think much is known about this object,” Patrick Taylor, an astronomer and planetary radar expert at Arecibo Observatory, told Business Insider in an email.
Taylor and others who work with Arecibo, a huge radio dish built inside of a Puerto Rican sinkhole, plan to ping the mysterious space rock with radar and record high-resolution images using the signals that bounce back.
“The Arecibo radar will give us a much better understanding of its size, shape, and rotation by directly measuring all three properties,” Taylor said.
The asteroid will fly closest to Earth during its current orbit on Monday, February 4, at around 4:30 p.m. ET, according to a release by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
NASA considers the space rock “potentially hazardous” because Read More Here