asteroid

Massive Asteroid Wider Than 3 Stacked Salesforce Towers to Pass by Earth

NBC Universal, Inc.

A massive asteroid that's more than a half-mile wide will zoom past Earth on Tuesday.

While asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1) is going to be very close by cosmic standards, there's no danger of it crashing into Earth.

NASA does list the asteroid as "potentially hazardous" due to its size. Its diameter is more than three Salesforce Towers stacked on top of each other.

As it passes, the asteroid will be about five times the distance between Earth and the moon.

It will be close enough to see, but not with the naked eye.

"It's going to be moving fast in the sky," said Franck Marchis, chief scientific officer for telescope company Unistellar. "You will see with a telescope a tiny dot that will move with respect to the background sky, and if you're lucky, you will also see some small variation of light because asteroids are not perfectly shaped. In fact, they have this kind of weird shape. When they spin, basically the light changes, the brightness changes over time due to the spin variable of the asteroid and this irregular shape."

While there's no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth, if it did, Marchis said it would be a "city killer," not a "planet killer."

NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai and Business and Tech Reporter Scott Budman take a closer look at the asteroid that came close to Earth Tuesday.

"It would release 100 times more energy than the most [powerful] atomic bomb we’ve ever built: the Tsar Bomba atomic bomb," he said. "It would create a crater of 14 kilometers in diameter, so it would basically wipe out an entire city and the surrounding of the city. I just emphasize, once again, this is not going to happen."

Marchis said the upside of the asteroid passing so close is being able to observe the possibility of future mining. Asteroids are often packed with precious metals like nickel, iron and cobalt.

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