Asteroid at risk of hitting Earth in September, astronomers warn

An asteroid half the size of a rugby field could slam into the Earth later this year, according to the European Space Agency.

Its latest list of dangerous near-Earth objects, issued on Friday, includes 2006 QV89 - which has a one-in-7299 chance of colliding with our planet on September 9/10.

It's ranked fourth in the top 10 most concerning, but is the only one scheduled to fly by - or into - the Earth in the next couple of years.

2006 QV89 was discovered in 2006. It's 40m across - about the same size as the towering statue of Jesus Christ that overlooks Rio de Janiero. If it doesn't crash into us in September, it'll fly past again in 2032, 2045 and 2062.

ESA modelling suggests it'll zip past at the relatively safe distance of 6.7 million kilometres.

Let's hope they're right - though small compared to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs (that was at least 10km across), 2006 QV89 could still do some damage. According to Purdue University's Impact Earth calculator, it has the potential to strike with the power of 1.5 megatons - slightly stronger than the biggest nuclear weapon currently in the United States' arsenal.

The asteroid that exploded above Russia's Chelyabinsk in 2013 was only 20m across.

In 2029 an enormous asteroid more than 300m across called 99942 Apophis will fly by the Earth only 31,000km away.



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